VTHS 2019 Baseball Preview

The new baseball season is approaching quickly and there’s a lot to look forward to this year for the Valley Torah Wolfpack.

Returning players such as Eli Solomon (‘19) and Yosee Kreitenberg (‘20) have been recently appointed captains and look to lead the team to their first playoff berth in three years. Both Eli and Yosee have been playing since their respective freshman years, but only Eli has seen the success of making the playoffs.

“Obviously it is a major goal for us. Last year had we won one more game we would have made the playoffs. This year it will be a major challenge being that we lost key starters.”

Eli Solomon (’19), Editor-in-Chief, Baseball Team Co-Captain

Eli is referring to the previous year’s captains Mendy Marks and Matthew Roessler, both of whom graduated, in addition to outfielding starters Binyamin Sloves and Yakov Goldman.

“If we want to win we need a full commitment from current students, from seniors to freshmen. Last year, the team had a feeling that practices were optional and the team was an ‘extra curricular.’ Not anymore. Winning this year will be a struggle, but if we practice and play with intensity I’m sure we will be able to compete with the best.”

Yosee Kreitenberg (’19), Baseball Team Co-Captain

In addition to the captains, returning players such as Avi Goldstein (‘19), Elliott Roessler (‘21), and Yehuda Noble (‘21) are seeking to make a bigger impact now that more spaces have opened up.

Yehuda, who will be playing primarily pitcher and catcher, is an amazing improvement to the current pitching rotation, but it will be a struggle as it is his first year playing catcher in high school. Offensively, Yehuda provides a strong heart of the order batting position and will be in a spot to knock in a few RBIs.

Avi Goldstein will be looking to solidify his spot as the starting first baseman after the spot has opened up following Ryan Turrell’s departure. This past offseason, Avi has worked relentlessly on his fielding and hitting skills, hoping to provide the team with an offensive spark, something which it has severely missed over the past couple of years.

Lastly, returning star Elliott Roessler will be looking to build up his resume for his captainship position. As the team’s greatest utility player, Elliott can play anywhere from pitcher to outfielder, although he greatly prefers shortstop. With his slider, which he has been developing for quite a while, Elliott will seek to add to the rotation by coming in as a reliever, possibly even starting a couple of games. With is quick speed, Elliott will surely bat lead-off and is a constant threat to steal a bases the first chance he gets.

This year, the Wolfpack will be taking their talents to Columbus, Ohio where they will be participating in the “Jewish World Series” at the end of May. Only their second appearance, the Wolfpack will have a tall mountain to climb in order to match their runner-up performance just two years ago.

A key aspect of this will surely be the coach, Mark Stone.

Returning for his third year, Coach Stone (who could not be reached for comment) will be looking to build on his relationship with the team in their quest for a playoff berth and a Columbus championship. Managing baseball for a few decades, Coach Stone aims for a team who brings everything they got on every gameday. Although the team is still searching for an assistant coach, Coach Mark is certainly enough when it comes to tell the team off for their poor performances.

The team faces a couple of roadblocks to a playoff appearance, especially since they are in probably the toughest league in their division. With teams such as Santa Clarita Christian, Trinity Classical, and Faith Baptist, all of whom have made the CIF championship final in recent years, including appearances by Faith and Trinity the past two years, the road is not smooth. Newcomers Vazquez will also seek to give the Wolfpack trouble in addition to Lancaster Baptist, the team that eliminated the Wolfpack from playoff contention. But both Yosee and Eli believe they can hold their own.

“We either beat or had a close game with all of those teams last year, and there is no reason we can’t do the same this year,” Eli said. “If we win the games we have to and compete in the ones we are the underdogs in, we are surely bound to shock some people.”

“The most important game is our opener, most likely against YULA,” said Yosee. “We have beat them every year I have been a part of this team and beating them will set the stage and the morale for a positive year. If we are able to beat Shalhevet, who were not able to field a team last year, then we will be in good shape for both CIF and Columbus.”

Ultimately, as is usual with baseball, there is no single player that can shape a team’s performance. Each player has to work on his own game and contribute in small ways in order to lead the Wolfpack to victory. With regular practices starting soon, the team will be able to gel together and shake off all the rust as they seek to compete against well-run and strong competitors.

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