There were a few coaching changes in the Northern 4A baseball ranks since last season.
But the story is the same. The road to the Regional title still goes through Reno High.
The Huskies won their fifth straight Region championship last May, and sixth out of the past seven, when they beat Galena 15-2 in the final.
The Reno players and coaches know they are the hunted, but all say they are not concerned with last year.
For Reno’s standout pitcher Christian Chamberlain, who has signed to play for Oregon State, it’s about the basics.
“Just plays as a team, not a bunch of individuals. Throw strikes. Let everyone do their job,” Chamberlain, a senior, said. “As long as we take care of what we do, we’ll be fine.”
Chamberlain was on the Reno basketball team that won the Northern 4A title and went to state. But he said he was also staying in baseball shape during basketball season, which concluded for the Huskies less than two weeks ago.
He will be pitching to a freshman catcher, Lane Oliphant, in addition to senior catcher Kurtis Roberts.
Roberts said the players don’t worry about defending the Region title.
“We just try to keep focused on winning every day. We always have an end goal. We try to work every day to get to that goal,” Roberts said.
Drake Vestbie will pitch and play infield for the Huskies.
“Every game is going to be a test, We can’t take anyone easy,” Vestbie said.
Reno coach Pete Savage said it’s about developing players as the season progresses. He has most of his summer league players from the Reno Knights on the Huskies.
“Every team is different. It’s an annual challenge to develop this year’s players into a very competitive team and develop these talents,” Savage said. “We like our ballclub. We’ve got some good youth. We’ve got some good veterans.”
One of his assistants is former Reno coach Bill Penaluna.
Galena has a new head coach in Beau Walker, who took over for Dave Kulikowski. Kulikowski is back at Bishop Manogue as an assistant coach.
Galena went 20-2 last season, 28-9-1 overall, and picked up a win in the state tournament. It was the first win for a Northern Nevada team in a first-round state tournament game since 2012.
The Grizzlies have four seniors this year, including Mateo Lemus who returns to baseball and was on the Galena varsity as a sophomore. He ran track last spring. Tom Lichty and Austin Wickham also return for Galena after having standout seasons last year.
Levi Matherly is the new coach at Reed, after John Phenix stepped down. And Matt Ortiz is the new head coach at Spanish Springs, taking over for Ben Hofmann.
The regular season begins Tuesday, but many Northern Nevada teams get a chance to see how they stack up in the 16-team Mike Bearman Memorial Tournament, which begins Thursday at several schools.
Mike Bearman was a long-time umpire in Northern Nevada who died June 16, 2004.
Northern 4A Players to Watch
Bishop Manogue – Michael Davis, pitcher; Oliver Shawa, outfield
Carson – Bryce Moyle, pitcher; Abel Carter, infield
Damonte Ranch – Zack Jensen, catcher
Douglas – Isaiah Schat, pitcher
Galena – Austin Wickham, first base; Tom Lichty, second base
Hug – Cesar Valenzuela, catcher
McQueen – Nelson Padilla, shortstop; Drew Clark, pitcher/outfield
North Valleys – AJ Dennis, third base
Reed – Lincoln Turner, outfield; Vinny Fillipone, shortstop; Jon Pinto, right field/shortstop
Reno – Christian Chamberlain, pitcher, Austin Whan, first base
Spanish Springs – Josh Prizina, catcher
Wooster – Alex Malcolm, pitcher/outfield
Mike Bearman Memorial Tournament
Thursday: 2 p.m., Fernley at Reno; 3 p.m., Lowry vs. North Valleys at Fernley; McQueen at Wooster; Truckee at Douglas; Central Catholic at Reed; Enterprise at Damonte Ranch; 5 p.m., Spanish Springs vs. San Ramon, at Reno; 5:30 p.m., Fallon at Carson.
Friday: At Reno – 9:30 a.m., McQueen vs. San Ramon; Noon, McQueen vs. Reno; 2:30 p.m., Reno vs. San Ramon; 5:30 p.m., Fernley vs. Lowry.
At Wooster – 9 a.m., Spanish Springs vs. Lowry; 11:15 a.m., Spanish Springs vs. North Valleys; 1:45 p.m., Wooster vs. Fernley; 4 p.m, Wooster vs., North Valleys.
At Carson – 9:30 a.m., Douglas vs. Enterprise; noon, Enterprise vs. Central Catholic, 2:30 p.m, Douglas vs. Carson; 5 p.m., Carson vs. Central Catholic.
At Reed, 9:30 a.m., Damonte Ranch vs. Fallon; noon, Damonte vs. Reed; 2:30 p.m., Fallon vs., Truckee; 5 p.m., Reed vs. Truckee.
Saturday: at Reno – 10 a.m., Spanish Springs vs. Central Catholic; 12:30 p.m, Reno vs. Central Catholic; 3 p.m., Reno vs. Lowry;
at Wooster – 10 a.m., Wooster vs. Lowry; 1 p.m, Wooster vs. Enterprise; 4 p.m, Carson vs. Enterprise.
At Fernley – 10 a.m., Truckee vs,. North Valleys; 1 p.m., Fernley vs. North Valleys; 4 p.m, Fernley vs. McQueen.
At Reed – 9:30 a.m., McQueen vs. Fallon; noon; Fallon vs. Dougla;s 2:30 p.m, Spanish Springs vs. Reed; 5 p.m., Douglas vs. Reed.
At Damonte – 9:30 a.m., San Ramon vs., Damonte; noon, Carson vs. Damonte.
Baseball – Tuesday, March 14: 3:45 p.m. Bishop Manogue at Hug; Reno at Carson; Damonte Ranch at Reed; McQeen at Douglas; Galena at North Valleys; Spanish Springs at Wooster.