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Ranger baseball rising up the 2A ranks

DUFUR second baseman Bryson Caldwell makes a putout at first base after fielding a groundball in a recent game at Dufur City Park. Caldwell and the Rangers are hoping for a state titile run in 2013.

DUFUR second baseman Bryson Caldwell makes a putout at first base after fielding a groundball in a recent game at Dufur City Park. Caldwell and the Rangers are hoping for a state titile run in 2013. Photo by Ray Rodriguez.

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DUFUR slugger Josh Keyser takes a cut at a pitch while playing varsity ball this season. Keyser brings his potent bat to a top Ranger offense this year.

— Dufur coach C.S. Little just wants a season where injuries and grades do not interfere with the preseason goals of his baseball team.

It was a lofty goal, but already the Rangers are coping with life without all-league players Bubba Adams and Brett Lowes.

Just seven games into the 2013 campaign and the Rangers have survived those two departures with four wins and the state’s eighth-best scoring offense at 49 runs.

In 2012, Dufur racked up 161 runs for 13th in the state.

“I think we have some kids who got experience last year and now they are a little more comfortable with their roles on this team,” coach Little said. “I like the potential of the players. Most of them are still sophomores, so there is time for them to get better from here.”

The core of this squad amassed 12 wins last year and finished one run short of posting a No. 3 state playoff seed.

With 15 games still left on the schedule, Dufur appears to be poised to surpass those wins and offensive numbers for the third consecutive season.

They will have to make up for the loss of Lowes (knee) and Adams (relocation), including all-state infielder Boone Little (graduation).

Roster

DUFUR BASEBALL ROSTER

Coaches

C.S. Little ...................Head Coach

Jeffery Reed ........Assistant Coach

Brett Lowes ........Associate Coach


Nathan Duling .......................IF, LF

Johnny Keyser ..........................RF

Cole Davis .................................RF

Kolby Bravos .................RF, LF, CF

Cole Parke .............................P, SS

Jake Kortge .......................P, C, 3B

Bryson Caldwell .....................P, 2B

Bradley Newman ..................CF, P

Brent Sumner ............................RF

Trever Tibbets ....................3B, P, C

Josh Keyser ..........................1B, P

Angelique Knapp .....................OF

Nick Little ..........................P, LF, CF


REMAINING SCHEDULE


at Mac-Hi (2)........11 a.m., Mar. 30

at P. Rock (2) ...........11 a.m., Apr. 6

at Horizon ...........4:30 p.m., Apr. 9

vs. Sherman (2) ...2 p.m., Apr. 12

at Irrigon (2) ..........11 a.m., Apr. 20

at Heppner (2) .....11 a.m., Apr. 27

vs. Horizon ......4:30 p.m., Apr. 30

vs. Stanfield (2) ..11 a.m., May 4

vs. W. McEwen......2 p.m., May 11


at Blue Mountain Baseball District Tournament at Quinton Street Ballpark......................TBA, May 18

State Play-In .....Time TBA, May 24

State 1st Rd .....Time TBA, May 28

Not to worry, but all-league players Cole Parke and Josh Keyser are back.

Parke is back at the leadoff slot and Keyser gets his spot back in the middle of the order.

Parke has already displayed a power stroke, while Keyser is continuing his progression with a high average and RBI totals.

The duo combined for a .389 batting average with 39 RBIs, 65 hits and 56 runs scored last season.

In this early slate, Dufur has scored more than 10 runs twice, they did so seven times last year, but only three times in their first 18 games.

A good start to the trend.

“I think we have a pretty good offense that can compete with anybody out there,” Jake Kortge said. “We have guys on this team who can do pretty much everything. We can hit home runs, we can bunt and all the little things that will help us win games.”

Along with Parke and Keyser, outfielders Nick Little, Angelique Knapp, Brent Sumner, Bradley Newman, Kolby Bravos, Cole Davis and Johnny Keyser figure to bring plenty of support for the Rangers.

Trever Tibbets, Bryson Caldwell, Kortge and South Wasco County co-operative athlete Nathan Duling anchor down the infield.

“We are definitely a well-rounded team and we take advantage of many different aspects of the game,” Josh Keyser said. “We have a great, solid infield and a fast outfield. We are well-rounded team. Going into this preseason, we definitely know the areas where we need to improve if we are going reach our goals.”

Parke and Keyser will log several innings on the bump as the aces of the staff and the quartet of Kortge, Caldwell, Newman and Tibbets are set to add some extra pitching depth.

So far, this group has allowed 34 runs in eight games, including 25 in all three losses.

“Looking at this roster, I feel we have a solid team. We can do a lot of things well,” coach Little said. “Our biggest need is we just our pitching to come through in league if we can compete. We can be strong there. It is good to have options to throw out there.”

For the past few years, Dufur has struggled with a district roadblock, where bad bounces, bad luck and losses have abruptly ended their postseason hopes.

Last year, the Rangers lost 4-3 to Horizon Christian in a heartbreak game that saw many scoring opportunities left on the basepaths.

All told, the players and their coach have a desire to get over that hump.

“We have huge potential as a team and I am very excited,” Parke said. “Last year, we didn’t live up to our potential and this year, I am expecting great things from us. I know we have the talent to do it. We know what we are capable of doing if we stay focused and start peaking at the end of the season.”

Dufur (4-3 overall) heads to Milton-Freewater for a doubleheader against 4A Mac-Hi starting at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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