Warriors looking at things
from another angle
By JIM BROWITT
of the Tribune
This the first in a
three-part series previewing Lewis-Clark State
College baseball for the 2005 season. Thursday:
Nothing made Ed Cheff cringe more last year than
the sight of a left-handed pitcher on the mound.
While he didn't see it much -- only one in four
Warrior at-bats came against southpaws -- he still
viewed it as the ballclub's biggest vulnerability.
"All it took was an average left-hander, and we
wouldn't battle at all," says the L-C coach, whose
primary lineup in '04 featured five players who hit
from the right side of the plate. "It was just a
And it was painfully evident in the NAIA World
Series. The Warriors faced left-handers in the first
two games of what would be the storied program's
poorest showing in a Lewiston tournament.
Cheff has taken measures to assure that scenario
won't be repeated this spring. Not only have his
recruiting efforts brought a number of right-handed
swingers into the fold, he has developed the team's
two most dependable lefties, Justin Fuller and Allen
Balmer, into switch hitters.
"We're pretty certain that left-handed pitching
isn't going to kill us," says Cheff, noting he'll be
able to use an exclusively right-handed batting
order when the situation arises. "Last year we
didn't have options. This year we do."
They will, however, be somewhat limited over the
early weeks of the season, which gets under way
Friday with the Les Schwab Tournament at Harris
Field. The Warriors will be without Fuller,
projected to be the principal shortstop, until
mid-March because of a broken hand and will only use
infielder Brandon Morris at designated hitter
because of a pulled groin.
Morris, a senior who last year hit .359 with 56
RBI and 15 home runs, will ideally be used at third
base, but could see time at first and catcher.
Balmer, a junior who was used in a variety of
capacities his first two seasons -- he hit .341 with
53 RBI in '04 -- will take over at third for the
time being. When Morris returns to full strength,
Balmer could be used in the outfield, where depth
and offensive potential are concerns.
Fuller, primarily used at second base last year
to protect a sore shoulder, hit .354 with 44 RBI and
established an L-C record with hits in 30
During Fuller's absence, the middle infield will
be manned by two junior transfers, Matt Vogel at
shortstop and Jose Castenon at second. Cheff
indicates all three will ultimately see considerable
Senior Josh Celigoy, who saw limited duty last
year due to wrist and elbow problems -- he hit .317
with 24 RBI and five home runs -- will be the
mainstay at first, while junior transfer Paul Keck
takes over behind the plate. Cheff expects Keck and
Celigoy to give a significant boost to the Warriors'
power-hitting potential; L-C had 82 home runs last
Although Cheff likes the defensive capabilities
of his outfielders, who plays will likely be
determined by who hits. Other than in center, where
juco transfer Joey Dyche has established himself as
the first choice, the positions remain, in Cheff's
words, "wide open." Possibilities include two
holdovers from '04, senior Ryan Stevenson (.323, 30
RBI) and sophomore Nick Benton (.328), who was used
mostly as a courtesy runner last spring. Others in
the mix are junior transfers Brandon Ramsey and
Rhett Parker, and Toshi Sasa, a junior who was with
the Warriors last year.
Cheff also intends to find playing time for
junior D.J. Kooken, a utility player capable of
playing four or five positions.
Browitt may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org