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Lind-Ritzville coach looks to set a foundation new-player-heavy lineup

Mar. 8—RITZVILLE — Lind-Ritzville/Sprague Baseball players began practice Feb. 26, and had their first game Thursday. Head Coach Jason Hilzer outlined how he feels going into the new season.

"We're really, really young. We've got 22 kids signed up and I think 13 of them are freshmen. I mean we're going to struggle a little bit with our pitching, so that's what's going to make it hard for us. We've got a lot of kids who haven't played a lot of games, even in the upperclassmen, so we're just going to keep getting better and better, but it's going to take us a little bit."

Hilzer explained some of his focuses for the new season.

"We're probably going to have multiple kids try to pitch so that we're not wearing a bunch of kids out, because the kids that we have have not pitched before, or very little. Safety always comes first with me as far as their arms and stuff, because they're going to have to have a living after they get out of high school, so I don't like wearing kids' arms and shoulders and stuff out," Hilzer said. "We're going to end up moving kids around seeing what's the best position for them, so other than that, that's about it as far as a strategy.

The team has some significant returning players Hilzer highlighted.

"Brody Boness is a returning player. He's a junior. He's just coming back off an injury, he got hurt and broke his leg during football. So it's gonna be a little bit before he gets going pretty well," Hilzer said. "There's Travis and Traye Redburn, they're twins. They both have played for me for four years. They're both seniors. Travis is going to be kind of an all-around, he's going to be a shortstop, a catcher, a first baseman and pitching. Traye has been my right fielder for three years, but now he's going to probably have to play some infield, he's going to pitch, so we'll see."

Hilzer continued highlighting key players for the season.

"The other senior I have this palace Talus O'Brien. This is his fourth year. He's been primarily a second baseman, but we'll kind of see where he ends up. We have another kid who turned out last year and is a senior this year. He's doing track and baseball, so we don't know how many games we're going to actually get him; that's Brock Kinch. He did well for us last year; he caught for us so he'll catch, he'll play some shortstop, pitch."

Hilzer also mentioned some newcomers to the team.

"I got a couple of freshmen who are pretty good. Jackson Earl, Gage Hernandez, both are good, so those are the ones that I really look at that might be able to help us this year," Hilzer said. "Gage plays shortstop and Jackson's a pitcher, plays for first base, probably some outfield."

The team has decent numbers, Hilzer said, about the same as last season, but down a couple of key players.

"It's gonna be tougher," Hilzer said. "We lost a couple of really good kids for graduation and then we lost our two best pitchers. They transferred to Colfax, so it's gonna be tough to get where we were last year."

Hilzer said the team will be trying its hardest to make it as far as they can in their league.

"There are four really good teams in our league," Hilzer said, "But we're just going to compete, we're going to pitch what we have to pitch and hopefully make it through games. As long as we can throw strikes, I think we'll be okay."

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com. Download the Columbia Basin Herald app on iOS and Android.

LRS Baseball Schedule

March 16 — at Desales (doubleheader) — 12 p.m.

March 19 — vs Newport (doubleheader) — 2 p.m.

March 23 — vs Kettle Falls (doubleheader) — 12 p.m.

March 26 — vs Colfax (doubleheader) — 2 p.m.

March 30 — at Reardan (doubleheader) — 12 p.m.

April 9 — at Liberty (Spangle) (doubleheader) — 2 p.m.

April 20 — vs Asotin (doubleheader) — 12 p.m.

April 27 — vs Northwest Christian (Colbert) (doubleheader) — 12 p.m.