New faces throughout Sierra baseball lineup

2 images- Sierra batting; Sierra catching
Images courtesy of Herb Decker

Gold Country Media

Jordan Georgson Jan 28, 2024 8:15 AM

The 2023 season was one to remember for Sierra College baseball. The Wolverines finished as the top-ranked team in Northern California and placed third in the state tournament, its best finish since 2012.

This season, the Wolverines will field nine new position players and there are plenty of questions around how the new faces will fare.

"Our biggest thing for this team is just that we're so young," Sierra third-year coach Ryan Evangelho said. "We lost all nine of our starting position players to graduations and scholarships, and we sent three pitchers to Division I schools and had one get drafted."

Evangelho said the talent is there for this year's team, but the young players will have to take their lumps and prove themselves in a tough Big 8 Conference.

"Reloading is our biggest thing this year with the guys we got in. We are really starting from day one scratch with these young guys and trying to just get them to believe in the system and how we do things," Evangelho said. "With a young group, there's a lot of unknowns, and this year is no exception."

Even with the youth, Evangelho still thinks there is plenty to be excited about. He feels the Wolverines will be one of the fastest teams in the area and they can be expected to be aggressive on the basepaths.

"Our team speed is ridiculous. We have some guys that can absolutely fly," Evangelho said. "We played Napa in a scrimmage game the other day. We had two inside-the-park home runs, which never really happened ever."

The pitching staff will be led by sophomore Caden Hunter, a Granite Bay product who is scheduled to transfer to USC next season. Evangelho said Hunter is probably the most experienced player on this year's team and he expects Hunter to be the ace.

"Caden got significant innings for us last year coming out of the bullpen, but this year he'll probably be our ace," Evangelho said. "He's already signed with USC and he's a guy we're pretty excited about. We also got a left-hander in Jordan Jacobson that we got from Sac State that we are excited about."

Evangelho said Tyler Olson and Jaren Ekkelboom should be in the starting rotation as well.

In the middle infield, shortstop Masa Kawashima is expected to be a key player. The sophomore from Japan has garnered Division I interest, and Evangelho expects him to have a big season.

Even with a young team, Evangelho expects the Wolverines to be in the mix in the Big 8 again among powers Folsom Lake, Sacramento City and Cosumnes River.

"Anytime you finish number one in Northern California, you have a target on your back and these guys want to embrace that," Evangelho said. "The key is to not get frustrated when we win one, lose one, win one, lose one when we get into conference play because that's just how our conference is. We need to continue to stay positive and battle to get ourselves in the playoffs."

Sierra opened its season Saturday at Laney College with a 7-4 win over the Eagles in Oakland. The Wolverines' home opener is Feb. 8 against Feather River.