The Wood River baseball team finished 14-10 a year ago, its first winning season since 2016.
It also earned a No. 2 seed in the Great Basin 7 Tournament.
Though the Wolverines couldn’t make it to the 4A state tournament, head coach Dave Slotten and assistant coach Brad Thompson are looking for this experienced club to take that next step.
“Our goals for the year are to take this team to the state tournament,” Thompson said. “We continue to focus on the fundamentals of the game and know having a lineup that is solid one through nine and players coming off the bench that can contribute every day is essential to be successful in a team game like baseball.”
Wood River lost five seniors to graduation, including standout Hunter Thompson, who hit .436 with 26 runs scored, 22 RBIs, 11 doubles and four home runs. But the Wolverines return a plethora of players who look to make a statement.
“Although we lost some key seniors from last year, we are excited to bring back such a large group this year,” Brad Thompson said. “We hope to carry last year’s success, teamwork and excitement and continue to build upon it.
“Many of this group of young men have been playing baseball together for almost 10 years.”
Seniors Rabbit Buxton (.426), Brock Burrell (.400) and Gabe Nilsen (.361) and junior Dawson Speth (.345) return to make an impact. Buxton scored 30 runs and stole 25 bases, Burrell had 24 hits, 16 RBIs and four doubles, Nilsen 26 hits, 24 RBIs and three triples, and Speth 20 hits and 15 RBIs.
Senior Eric Parris returns as the top pitcher. The conference’s Pitcher of the Year last season, the left-hander tossed 58.2 innings, struck out 82 and walked 16 with a 6-2 record. He allowed 59 hits and 41 runs, 25 of which were earned. At the dish, Parris hit .302 as 10 of his 19 hits were for extra bases—four homers, three doubles and three triples. He drove in 18.
Nilson fanned 25 and allowed nine earned runs in 22.1 innings. Sophomore Ozzie Scherer threw 14.2 innings and struck out 11.
Wood River was aggressive on the base paths in 2022, totaling 85 steals, 3.5 per game. Senior Clayton Elsbree stole nine bases while hitting .333.
“We continue to focus on pitching and solid defense to help us win games,” Thompson said. “We are successful in the games where we make the least amount of mistakes. We are extremely fortunate to have so much talent in our valley.
“When we focus on playing our game and making sure we don’t beat ourselves, we win baseball games.”
One thing the coaches would like to clean up a bit for this season is fielding. The Wolverines committed 87 errors a year ago, 3.6 per game.
Starting the season
Wood River began the year splitting a doubleheader at Bishop Kelly on Saturday, March 11.
The Wolverines won the first one, 5-4, in extra innings and lost the second, 8-0.
Wood River scored one in the top of the seventh to tie it at 4, and one in the top of the eighth. Bishop Kelly scored two in the bottom of the first for a 2-1 lead and two in the bottom of the sixth for a 4-3 lead.
Buxton reached on a two-out error in the seventh, stole second and scored on an error on a ball put in play by Speth.
Elsbree walked with one out in the eighth inning. He moved to second on a wild pitch, went to third on Nilsen’s groundout and scored on Uhrig’s two-out single.
Nilsen picked up the win, relieving Parris with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Parris fanned six and walked two. Nilsen struck out a pair.
Buxton went 1-for-2 with two walks from his leadoff spot. He stole two bases and scored three times. Speth had a pair of singles and Jacob Uhrig the other single. Burrell had a pair of RBIs. Parris and Uhrig also drove in runs.
Bishop Kelly scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning off Wood River starter Holden Blair. Uhrig pitched four innings. He fanned four. Kyle Ipsen pitched the final inning.
Parris doubled and Uhrig, Speth, Burrell and Elsbree all singled.
WOOD RIVER ROSTER
Seniors: Finn Naghsh, Rabbit Buxton, Eric Parris, Clayton Elsbree, Gabe Nilsen, Brock Burrell, Chase Malliarodakis.
Juniors: Dawson Speth, Jacoby Frederick, Jacob Uhrig, Kyle Ipsen, Holden Blair.
Sophomores: Luke Hebert, Drake Orr.
Freshman: Carter Thompson.
WOOD RIVER SCHEDULE
March 17, at Caldwell, Noon/2 p.m.
March 18, at Vallivue, 11 a.m./1 p.m.
March 28, at Twin Falls, 4:30 p.m.
April 1, at Nampa, 11 a.m./1 p.m.
April 5, Twin Falls, 3:30 p.m.
April 7, at Buhl Tournament, TBA
April 8, at Buhl Tournament, TBA
April 11, at Canyon Ridge, 5 p.m.
April 14, Burley, 3 p.m./5 p.m.
April 17, Canyon Ridge, 3:30 p.m.
April 20, at Minico, 3 p.m./5 p.m.
April 25, at Jerome, 3:30 p.m.
April 28, Mountain Home, 3 p.m./5 p.m.
May 1, Jerome, 3:30 p.m. (Senior Day)
May 4-12, District Tournament, TBA
May 18-20, State Tournament, TBA ￼
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Great job boys! You beat last years state champions, the first time you saw grass this year.
Welcome to the discussion.