Success at the junior varsity level doesn't always transfer to the varsity level, but Seaside baseball coach Joel Dierickx would like nothing more than to see that happen in 2010.
The Gulls' JV program had a 22-2 record in 2009, and many of those players will be making the step up to the varsity level this year, joining various returners who give Seaside a little more experience than they're used to.
"That's the key," said Dierickx, back for his 13th year with the Gulls. "For the past few years, we've been really young. And we'll be young again. We've had a string of where we only have three or four seniors a year, where sophomores and juniors have to step up, sometimes before they're ready to play at the varsity level.
"We have a lot of new faces, but a lot of new faces from a pretty successful JV team last year," he said. "They're all fired up and ready to play."
With first place already reserved for you-know-who, the rest of the Cowapa League will be chasing the two remaining playoff spots, last year won by Scappoose and Tillamook.
"I've been here a long time, and you can always kind of count on certain people being real strong," Dierickx said. "And obviously Astoria is going to be very, very strong. After that, Scappoose has a great string of kids going through right now, and I think they'll be real solid with pitching and putting the ball in play.
"Dave (Ackerman) is back at Tillamook, so they'll be OK," he said. "Banks has a new coach (Rainier graduate Jerimy Kelley) and should do real well; and Andy (Ackerman) does a good job at Yamhill-Carlton. You can count on it like death and taxes. Certain people will do all right. We just have to be ready to play every day."
Four all-league players headline the list of returners for Dierickx and the Gulls.
Ian Dueber is back for his senior year, and will be one of Seaside's main pitchers, in addition to being a first-team all-league outfielder.
"Ian Dueber, Joel Slovak and Nick Nelson will probably be our big three" on the mound, Dierickx said. "Jason Spear and Eddie Soller may pitch a little, too."
Sophomore Charles Hawes was lost to a knee injury suffered during basketball season.
"We have Erik (Knutsen) at first base and James Benfield at catcher, and James is doing a nice job there," he said. "I think we're well-rounded. We have some OK speed, some OK arms ... and I think we'll be a lot more solid defensively than the last couple years.
"We'll also be able to do more consistently, hittingwise."
Seaside's preseason roster includes:
James Benfield, Jr.
Ian Dueber, Sr.
Ian Hawksford, Jr.
Brook Johnson, Jr.
Erik Knutsen, Sr.
Nick Nelson, So.
Jon Perry, Jr.
Andy Pittard, Jr.
Joel Slovak, Jr.
Eddie Soller, So.
Ryan Sparks, Sr.
Jason Spear, Sr.
The Gulls missed out on the playoffs in 2008 and 2009, but they've got the guns to make a serious run at the postseason in 2010.
Coaching, young talent and more experience give the Gulls plenty to work with in their quest for a top- three finish in the Cowapa.
Coach: Joel Dierickx, 13th year
2009: 7-16 (5-9 Cowapa League)
All-League losses: Jeremy Carow (Inf.), 1st team.
All-League returners: Ian Dueber (OF), 1st team; Erik Knutsen (C), HM; Ryan Sparks (Inf.), HM; Ian Hawksford (Inf.), HM.