“Reunited and it feels so good.”
Those classic lyrics from Peaches and Herb ring true for the Forest Lake Christian baseball team.
The Falcons have stumbled out to a 2-4 start in the 2014 prep baseball season, but now that a few key members of the flock have rejoined the team they are poised to make a spirited flight through Central Valley California League and hopefully land in the postseason.
The Forest Lake Christian baseball team is now whole with the return of junior Kyle Soria and senior Jacob Yarborough, both joining the team after a deep run through the D-V prep basketball playoffs. Both players have been starters for the baseball team since they were freshman.
“We’ve been leaning on Hayden (Piner) and its been good, because our basketball guys are our pitchers, Jacob and Kyle,” FLC head coach Jess Soria said. “Kyle’s probably our No. 1 and Hayden is making a good run at No. 2, but we also have Jacob Yarborough who can come in and give us quality innings.”
The Falcons’ pitching staff is talented but a little thin as they jump into the throes of league play.
Yarborough enters the season with a lingering elbow injury and last year’s freshmen surprise Mike Rubio, who pitched in 10 games games last season and boasted a 2.86 ERA, is out for an undetermined amount of time with an arm injury, said Jess Soria.
Kyle Soria saw an inning of action from the mound against Foresthill Thursday, striking out one and walking one, but Jess Soria is confident his son will regain form and be a force for the Falcons this season.
Kyle Soria led the team in ERA as a sophomore, going 4-3 from the slab with a 2.18 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 10 appearances last season.
“I like attacking hitters,” he said. “I pound the zone, I do mix it up a little bit, but I’m more of a power pitcher.”
When Yarborough is able to pitch again it will give FLC a versatile starting staff, Jess Soria said.
“Jacob is crafty,” Jess Soria said. “He has some good off speed pitches and he can be sneaky quick when he needs to be, and he doesn’t get rattled on the mound. He’s very heady, can field his position and can pick off runners. But the big thing is he doesn’t get rattled.”
Yarborough has been playing first base so far this season and said he looks to help the team any way he can.
“Right now I have an injured elbow, but I’m hoping that gets better soon,” Yarborough said. “In the meantime I will just do what they need me to do, play first base and shortstop, and try and get on base.”
Yarborough’s bat is one of the best in the Falcons lineup.
In 2013, Yarborough batted .353 with 10 RBIs, two doubles, a triple and a home run.
From the plate, FLC graduated a pair of quality hitters in Riley Wils (.415) and Hunter Phillips (.383), but return a plethora of young talent.
Kyle Soria is the one of the team’s go-to guys at the plate.
“Kyle and Jacob, I want the pitcher to face our junior and senior in the first inning,” Jess Soria said. “I think the more times they have to face them, the more at bats they get, it will help us. We need to get them on and have our four and five hitters come through.”
Kyle Soria led FLC last season in RBIs with 17 and also had a .412 batting average to go with six doubles, a triple and a home run.
FLC’s Logan Ray, Cody Kennedy, Brett Soria, Daniel Cuneo and Jared Hankins all bring quality bats to the lineup as well.
“We’re definitely counting on the bottom of the lineup,” Kyle Soria said. “If Jared (Hankins) hits, (Daniel) Cuneo hits, Brett (Soria) hits, we’ll definitely win a lot of games. We can hit, one through nine, we can hit.”
Hankins is just a sophomore this season, but brings a quality bat that tallied a .368 batting average last season.
Cuneo, a senior, has made the move from third base to left field this season, making room for first-time player, senior Chase Augustino.
“Daniel’s out in left,” Jess Soria said. “He’ll play some third too, but Chase is more of a natural athlete, quicker reaction time. That’s not a knock on Daniel, he can play anywhere and he’ll play first base sometimes too. Daniel is a competitor and he’ll play wherever he can help the team. I can’t say enough good things about Daniel.”
Cuneo batted .212 last season, but led the team in walks drawn. Augustino, best known for his basketball prowess, is giving baseball a try for the first time since Little League and is holding down the hot corner for the Falcons.
“Chase is playing for the first time as a senior and he’s right behind Cuneo (in the lineup),” Jess Soria said. “He needs a couple more at bats, a little more seasoning, but I think he’ll be fine.”
The Falcons do have a deep team and Jess Soria said he likes the direction the team is heading.
“I like our team, I think we will be really good in the future, I think when we get Kyle’s arm conditioned he will be able to lock down the base on balls.”
For the Falcons, who have finished in second place in the CVCL the past three seasons, the goals are simple: win games and make the playoffs.
“First thing we want to do is win each game,” Yarborough said. “But, long-term we want make playoffs and if we do that we just need to take it game by game.”
The Falcons resume league play Monday when they travel to face Delta.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.