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Sparks baseball looks to rebound
by Michael Lingberg
Mar 09, 2011 | 925 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne  - Sparks High senior Dennis Morelli plays catch with a teammate during the Railroaders’ Monday afternoon practice. The SHS baseball squad opens its season today at home against North Valleys. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Sparks High senior Dennis Morelli plays catch with a teammate during the Railroaders’ Monday afternoon practice. The SHS baseball squad opens its season today at home against North Valleys. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m.
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The clang of baseballs hitting aluminum bats has echoed on the field at Sparks High over the past week-plus as the SHS baseball team has prepared for its first game of the season, against North Valleys today.

The Railroaders’ main focus for this season is to get back into the 3A postseason tournament after missing it last season. Although head coach Greg Vasko wants the team to reach the playoffs, he doesn’t think the team should settle for just a playoff seed.

It’s been a long time since we didn’t make the playoffs, “Vasko said. “So our goal this year is to make it to state.”

If Sparks is to achieve its goal of making it to the state tournament, it will have to rely on the play of its seven returning seniors and eight returning players altogether. Since this team has so much experience, it could have a great chance of returning to the playoffs.

The Railroaders are eager to get back onto the field after they came up short of their goals last year. This year, however, is a different story because of the age of the team, according to Vasko.

“We have kids who are a little bit older and actually know the game,” he said. “So with the way the program is set up, we don’t need the older guys teaching the younger guys. We fell short with what we wanted to do last year so these kids really want to make an effort to go as far as they can this year.”

Sparks played in a scrimmage against Fernley last Saturday and Vasko felt that the defense was solid and the pitching was good but the team needed to work on hitting.

The hitting will have to improve if the Railroaders want to go through teams in their division like Truckee and South Tahoe, hopefully on their way to a berth in the state tournament. Vasko sees the series against these two teams crucial in his club's hunt for a playoff spot.

Even though the team is full of experienced players, Vasko doesn’t want to lean on any one player.

“With as many seniors as we have coming back, I don’t want to say we’re going to lean on any one player,” he said. “We’re going to do this as a team. Not one player, the rest of the team will be relied on. It’s going to have to be a team effort for us to reach our goal.”

Senior pitcher Martin Jordan will have his last chance to play for Sparks this year. He feels that the team has a good shot at the postseason.

“We’ve been working hard in practice,” Jordan said. “We want to make it to the playoffs and make it as far as we can.”

The Railroaders play in a preseason tournament during the upcoming opening weekend of the spring season. After facing North Valleys Thursday, the local team will play twice Friday and once Saturday.
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