Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 8:53 PM on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baseball boys start strong with basics

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff Writer

Homer's baseball team is getting back to basics and ready to rally with renewed vigor for the 2011 season.

Head Coach Lary Kuhns returns from a three-year break. Kuhns coached Homer's first sanctioned high school team to region championships in 2001-2005, with numerous academic awards and a close runner-up for the state title in 2005.

He said the 2011 team is similar in many ways to those that went on to take second, third and fourth at state.

"It's just going to be a matter of them playing together and us executing," Kuhns said.

A strong core of upperclassmen set the tone for the season.

"They're just setting an extremely good example, just being good guys. The younger guys follow their example," he said.

Seniors Cody Shealy, Asa Stage, Kevin Rowe, Neal Richardson and Kely Bottineau and juniors Heath Johnson, Ryan Josephson and Dillon Morrison have the Ms' field covered.

Kuhns is looking forward to quality play from freshmen Brian Rowe, Tommy Bowe and sophomores Willie Dever, Patrick Cashman and Lucas Schneider.

The adage, "home runs sell tickets but pitching and defense wins championships," has been the team's guide for spring training.

"Since our games are pretty much free to the public, we're going to rely on pitching and defense," he said. "That's what wins championships. A lot of our focus has been on defense, just routine plays."

With Stage, Rowe and Dever on the mound and Morrison behind the plate, the Ms' pitching is in place for success.

The team has been practicing six days per week since early March. In addition to Kuhn's expertise, the team benefits from the knowledge and integrity of assistant coaches Steve Fuson and Rich Sonnen.

"We're very optimistic about the season and I think we can be competitive with about anybody that we choose to be. I look forward to surprising a few teams in the region, but I don't want to make any predictions," Kuhns said.

"If we can catch a break here and there and just maintain homeostasis ... we can go out there and play meat and potatoes baseball."

The team's first game is Monday in Soldotna; the first home game is May 12.

Baseball schedule

May 2 at Soldotna 5:30 p.m.

May 4 at Kenai 5:30 p.m.

May 7 at Colony (Wasilla fields) 3 p.m.

May 12 vs. Palmer 6 p.m.

May 14 vs Houston 1 p.m.

May 16 vs. Soldotna 6 p.m.

May 17 vs. Kenai 6 p.m.

May 20 vs. Kodiak 6 p.m.

May 21 vs. Wasilla 1 p.m.

May 26-27 Regions at Palmer