Bear River baseball, softball teams gear up for playoffs | TheUnion.com

Bear River baseball, softball teams gear up for playoffs

After missing out on the playoffs a year ago, the Bear River baseball team is back in the postseason and ready to take a bite out of the competition.

"This year our bats are more alive," senior catcher and team captain Jake Rogers said. "I think we can do some damage in the playoffs."

The Bruins, who finished tied for second in the Pioneer Valley League, are the No. 2 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division V bracket and will host No. 7 Western Sierra next Thursday at Bear River.

Bear River head coach Eric Van Patten, now in his fourth year at the helm, said his team is locked in and ready to go.

"We want to go in with just a real solid, sound focus," he said, noting the nine seniors on the team have formed a tight bond that will serve the team well. "We have a real continuity and sense of chemistry with our seniors."

BRUINS AT THE BAT

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The Bruins' strength this season has been its ability to hit up and down their lineup.

As a team, the Bruins are batting .331 with 77 extra base hits and a .395 on base percentage.

Leading Bear River at the plate is Rogers, who boasts team-highs in batting average (.455), RBIs (25), doubles (15), home runs (4) and stolen bases (13).

"(Rogers) is a catalyst," Van Patten said. "He's a team captain, he helps drive our intensity, he's a contributor, and I don't know what it is about baseball, but sometimes it just comes around to greet you well and he's been the guy that gets to be in the seat when we need him most … he comes through in the clutch."

Rogers is hardly the only big hit threat in the lineup, though, as the Bruins have five players that have gone deep at least twice this season, and seven players that are batting over .300.

Senior Justin Kilgore has been a source of power for the Bruins, notching 10 doubles, two home runs, and 23 RBIs to go with a .398 batting average.

Junior Nathen Van Patten has done a good job this season of setting the tone for the offense. The leadoff man is batting .384 with seven doubles, two triples and two home runs.

Fellow Bruins Jake Leonard, Clay Corippo, Scottie Sandstedt and Cole Winters all put up strong numbers this season as well and will be important to any success the Bruins find in the postseason.

ON THE BUMP

When it comes to pitching, the Bruins rely on Corippo, their senior ace to lead the way.

"He's our No. 1," Eric Van Patten said. "From junior year to senior year he really focused in on baseball and that served him well. His pitch control, his command control, his depth, it's all where we hoped it would be… And, he's only getting stronger and that's a good sign for us."

Corippo humbly said he just tries to get the opposing batters to make poor contact and lets the defense do the rest.

"Our defense is strong," he said. "The defense backing me up has helped me out a lot."

Corippo gets batters to whiff as well, leading the team in strikeouts and reaching double digits in Ks twice this season.

His job is made easier by the connection he shares with Rogers, who has been Corippo's batterymate since freshman year.

"Every time I'm on the bump and he's behind the plate I never have to shake him off," Corippo said. "We're always on the same page. We're always thinking the same thing. We've got a pretty good bond."

The Bruins also use Aaron Sasville, Johnny Calleri, Sandstedt, Rogers, Kilgore, Nathan Van Patten and Colton Jenkins in various pitching roles.

FACING WOLVES

The Bruins (13-14) are set to host the Wolves from Western Sierra Collegiate Academy in the first round at 4 p.m. Thursday.

The Wolves (9-10) come into the playoffs after a third place finish in the Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League.

If the Bruins top the Wolves, they will advance to a four-team double-elimination tourney which begins May 19.

RECENT HISTORY

The last time the Bruins were in the postseason was 2016, when they came back from a 7-0 deficit to beat Los Banos, 8-7, in the first round. Rogers, a sophomore at the time, came through with the big hit, crushing a solo home run in extra innings to give Bear River the walkoff win. The Bruins fell in the next round to El Capitan.

SOFTBALL

LADY BRUINS IN FAMILIAR TERRITORY

The Bear River softball team is in the playoffs for the 12th straight season after finishing second in the Pioneer Valley League.

Despite a strong showing in a quality league, the Lady Bruins (10-8-1) drew the No. 7 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V bracket and will be on the road to start the playoffs. Bear River will head to Linden Monday to face the No. 2 seed Linden Lions, who went 20-6 overall and tied for the Mother Lode League Championship.

Despite being the No. 7 seed, Bear River boasts the talent to pull off the upset.

Leading the Lady Bruins is senior pitcher Kaitlyn Maddux, who has a 9-6 overall record to go with a 2.59 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 100 innings pitched.

Maddux also leads Bear River at the plate with a .627 batting average, 19 RBIs and 12 extra base hits.

Bear River also has potent hitters in Justice Lewis (.375 batting average), Taylor Borges (.328), Julia Vaughan (.315), Gabi Royston (.308) and Mallory Borrego (.308). As a team, the Lady Bruins have a .305 batting average and score 6.8 runs per game.

For the Lady Bruins, the playoffs start at 4 p.m. Monday at Linden. If Bear River wins, it will then advance to a four-team double-elimination tourney at Arnaiz Softball Complex that starts Wednesday.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

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