With a roster full of experienced players, the Palo Alto High School baseball team (3-0-1) has its eyes set on a De Anza league championship and a Central Coast Section title.
After recording 19 wins and 13 losses, tying for the league title and suffering a disappointing loss to Carlmont High School in the first round of the CCS playoffs last season, the team looks to dominate with an experienced roster.
Junior second baseman Michael Champagne said the team is looking to reach last year’s accomplishments and more. According to Champagne, the team has also decided to focus on defense, as the Vikings are confident in their offensive power.
“Our goals for this season are to accomplish last year’s goals, beating Los Gatos and push on to win CCS this year,” Champagne said. “Our team this year has a much different complexion than last year’s team. We have more sophomores and much more of a focus on our defense as we feel that our offense is stacked with talent.”
Although key players, such as pitching ace Isaac Kasevich and star center fielder Phil Lewis graduated last year, the Vikings have filled its spots with a different core group of players that will be leading this year’s team. With a pitching staff headed by junior Ryan Chang and senior Justin Hull, a Claremont McKenna College baseball commit, as well as senior first baseman Alec Olmstead and senior outfielder Owen Plambeck, a Haverford college baseball commit, leading the lineup, the team is confident that it will have a successful season.
Four-year veteran and senior third baseman Riley Schoeben says he is confident in the Viking’s ability to surpass last year’s results thanks to rising talent in underclassmen and an experienced roster.
“We have a lot of young players who are going to play vital roles on our pitching staff,” Schoeben said. “In addition to the young players, we have an experienced group. A lot of the seniors having been playing on varsity for three plus years.”
According to Champagne, spectators should look out for a core group of upperclassmen along with all of the sophomores.
“Strong veterans to look out for this season are seniors Olmstead, Plambeck, Albert Han, Lawrence Han, Justin Hull and junior Ben Cleasby,” Champagne said. “These players will be accompanied by the rising talents of Max Jung-Goldberg, Niko Lillios, Jeremy Akioka and Jake Varner.”
Jung-Goldberg said he is excited for what this season has to bring and is proud of how the team is looking after its first two pre-season games. Jung-Goldberg verbally committed to the University of San Diego, a Division I University, this past winter and is the youngest returning player on the team.
“I think that our disappointing loss last year in CCS Open has raised the expectations for us this year,” Jung-Goldberg said. “Everyone is really stepping up, especially some of the younger guys like sophomore Jeremy Akioka who just threw a great ball-game against Aragon High School last week.We also have junior Ryan Chang who pitched five and a third no-hit innings against Saint Ignatius and they’re a great team.”
The team will head to Cupertino High School for its first De Anza league game at 4 p.m. Wednesday. For its first home league game, the Vikings will be hosting Cupertino at 3:30 p.m. Friday.