It will be the fourth baseball coach in five years, as Nate Girton takes over for Michael Ashworth, who stepped down after one season.
Before that, David Boyer was coach for two years, taking over for Adam Albrecht.
“I’m hoping we can get some stability,” said Girton, who is no stranger to Hawk athletics, having assisted at the lower levels. “I’m fortunate to have about 75 percent of the players in junior high basketball.”
Girton uses the word accountability in describing what his expectations are.
“I’m a big believer in that,” Girton said. “I had a meeting with the parents and told them it was a two-way street. Both of us do this together – coaches and players. We’re accountable to each other.”
Returning for his fourth-year is consummate athlete Dalton Hermes. He returns as pitcher and first baseman.
“With Dalton, you know what you’re getting day in and day out,” Girton said.
He is only one of two seniors on the team, along with third-baseman Nick Alexander.
“Nick’s worked his tail off getting ready for the season. He’s gotten much better,” Girton said.
Riley Brinbaum will be another valuable returner. The junior will play shortstop and pitch.
“He has tremendous off speeds,” Girton added.
Incoming transfer Noah Campos will be a pleasant addition at second base, pitching and the outfield.
“We’re deeper than I originally thought,” Girton said. “This team is universal with the number of positions everyone can play.”
For example, Girton has the luxury of looking at four catching prospects on the 23-man roster.
“We’re loaded with sophomores and juniors,” he said. “I’d like to get to 30, so we have enough for two teams.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Oregon will field both a jayvee and varsity team. None-the-less, Girton is optimistic on the prospects.
“We’re deep and young and need to learn to be competitive before we can win,” Girton said. “It’s important we take it one day at a time and not look at the big picture.”
The IHSA’s pitch count, initiated last year, had major ramifications for small schools like Oregon. It shouldn’t be much of a concern this season, though.
“I love our pitching depth. We have 10 solid pitchers,” Girton said.
Another positive Girton has noticed so far is the team attitude. For a program with a 26-114 record the last five years, that’s a huge plus.
“I think we can shock some people,” Girton said. “There’s some potential here.”
The first game was to be March 12, but the weather will be altering the schedule.
“We still have to wait for some 40 degree days to melt the snow and ice,” Oregon athletic director Mike Lawton said. “Then we need a drying out period. All we can do now is keep out fingers crossed for better weather.”