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Fresh Start: Reed baseball set for new season
by Aaron Retherford
Mar 07, 2011 | 740 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - First-year Reed baseball coach Ray Charles talks with Raiders players following a scrimmage last weekend.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - First-year Reed baseball coach Ray Charles talks with Raiders players following a scrimmage last weekend.
Ray Charles had a longstanding tradition of getting his Reed softball teams to the postseason and seeing them succeed.

Now, in his first season at the helm of the Raiders’ baseball program, he will try to carry over that success to a program with its third coach in five years and a two-year dry spell when it comes to qualifying for postseason play.

“We’ll always try to make the playoffs. That’s our goal,” Charles said. “That’s one of our main goals, to have some fun but we’re here to try to qualify.”

Trying to help Reed get back to the playoffs after missing out will be six seniors. About two-thirds of the team will be comprised of juniors.

“We have many juniors who will need to step up in order for us to have a successful year,” Charles said. “We’re kind of a junior-heavy team. We have some seniors, so we’ll go to battle with what we have.”

Leading the way are seniors Jeff Copple and Roberto Velazquez. Copple is a left-handed pitcher who will likely head the starting pitching rotation. Tanner Parris, Jake Means and Spencer Jones will all eat up some innings on the mound for the Blue and Gold.

Charles is looking forward to the added strategy baseball provides by utilizing a pitching staff.

“That’s probably the most exciting thing for me,” Charles said. “In softball, if you have the better pitcher, you’re probably going to win. In baseball, you have to have depth and the better team is going to win. I’m really excited to get a chance to develop my pitchers and my team. Because in softball, I felt we lost some games when they had the better pitcher and we had the better team. It didn’t seem too fair sometimes. In softball, you had pitchers who could throw 40 games, but in baseball no one is going to throw 40 games.

“That’s what I’m excited about, that kind of strategy of the game. With your innings limit per week, it makes it a different strategy.”

Velazquez has caught in the past for the Raiders and will play some infield this season.

Charles believes the team is better defensively than he expected and pitching might also be a strength.

“If we can get our pitchers to throw strikes and if we play some defense, I think we’ll be OK,” Charles said.

Because Charles has been coaching at the east Sparks school for over a decade, the transition from softball to baseball hasn’t been as tough as it would be for someone who was coming in from a new school. He has had to deal with the field. Because a baseball field is much larger than a softball field, the maintenance of the field is more time-consuming and has been the biggest difference for Charles.

“It hasn’t been a tough transition. I’m excited about it,” Charles said. “I think just getting to know them has been the toughest thing. We work on the same things, but they needed to get to know me. I do know most of them from being at Reed a long time, so the transition hasn’t been that tough. I’m not brand new to the school. They had an idea of who I was.”

Reed will open the season versus McQueen at home in an annual preseason tournament.
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