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Month: March 2015

Anti-vaccination forces hurt all

Rude awakenings, it was once believed, were reserved for other states in our nation.  Now we know from recent events that the one exceptional state, Oregon, is no longer of privileged status as was true in former years.  Our former governor has taken a dive for a girlfriend and it turns out that he may have had a lot of state administrators helping him, those apparently willing to be bossed around by the former governor’s fiancee.

But the most threatening among the changes that have come to Oregon of late is that which decries vaccinations and the immunizations against disease that are afforded by them.  In the West, specifically western Europe, experimentation with ways to control disease date back to the 1700s when successful means were found to rid the population of smallpox. Other efforts followed and enabled people and their children to avoid diseases that promised certain death in years past.

The means to control polio came to be in my lifetime.  It was a truly dreaded malady that took away a victim’s ability to breathe outside an “iron lung” and other forms of paralysis that deprived those so contracted with not being able to carry on with lives resembling normality.  Jonas Salk was recognized as a hero throughout the nation and that meant a lot of grateful Oregonians, too.  I remember well how I hoped for years I would not get polio and then escaped that worry after receiving my dose of prevention.

But what matter of madness do we endure now?  People who will not permit vaccinations against serious, death-threatening diseases for their children, themselves and the entire population.  What has caused so many among us to ignore the consequences of dangerous, terminating illnesses?  Frankly, I have no answer to my nagging question. I can guess at the reasons but suggest that the greatest, the most compelling reason for vaccinations has to do with humanity: the foundation for perpetuating a civilized world, one where the very survival of humans is at stake.

As a child I heard none of the bizarre screams and yells directed at enlightened medical doctors and Oregon leaders whose laws that bring health protections to all persons living in this state.  Those against it must hail from times long past where ignorance ruled and science was yet unknown.

Meanwhile, way beyond disappointment is what’s felt about those caved Oregon legislators who surrendered their integrity to the wanton few who came to Salem to protest what could have been public health protections through required vaccinations. It’s not understood what these representatives see as their job when they turn their backs on public safety for the majority to practice cowardice in response to the few misguided among us.

One TV host has suggested that we not acquire our health information from talk show hosts, radio nutcases or “Google University.”  Rather, he went on to say, look to medical graduates who attended medical schools with accreditation.  Then there’s the very wise quip about those who forget history being destined to repeat it and the wise doctor who asks whether you remember the time you got polio: “Of course you don’t, because your grandparents got your parents vaccinated who in turn got you vaccinated.”  But this kind of logic is unfortunately too obscure for those among us who prefer darkness over light.

Incidentally, it would have to be a rather brainless God to discourage people from inventing and using vaccinations.  If God weren’t  smart, don’t you see, he’d not have created a humankind that could save itself.  After all, he had already made a huge mistake with the dinosaurs.

(Gene H. McIntyre’s columns appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)

Hillary’s Nixonian path to office


The effective kickoff of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was an act of deck clearing so breathtaking, so brazen, that it remains difficult to process.

A former secretary of state summoned reporters to the United Nations, made a statement on Iran nuclear negotiations, then admitted deleting more than 30,000 emails she deemed personal from the account she exclusively used while in office.  This was the culmination of a deliberate, multiyear end run around congressional oversight, the Freedom of Information Act and the archiving of federal records. Documents she found inconvenient to sort while in government were convenient to destroy after leaving office.

Those looking for a historical parallel turned, inevitably, to one figure. According to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Clinton is “a modern, Democratic Richard Nixon.” “Nixon didn’t burn the tapes,” tweeted Joe Scarborough, “but Hillary deleted the emails.” Politico’s Todd Purdum did a careful historical comparison to Nixon, finding Clinton similarly “suspicious, defensive, contemptuous of the press and scornful of political adversaries.”

Clinton’s email housecleaning —barring future revelations—may work. She seems to have effectively navigated the gray areas of federal rules to avoid transparency.  But Republicans clearly hope the Nixonian label—which some in the media find credible—will stick. They believe the email controversy, while not politically fatal in isolation, will add to the composite image of a candidate driven by secrecy and resentment, surrounded by a ruthless palace guard and convinced that rules apply only to others.

A Republican candidate for president in 2016 (like every candidate for president) will need to negatively characterize his or her opponent. But the narrative of Clinton as Nixon underestimates both leaders.

First, the obvious: Nixon won two presidential elections, after being associated with low political tactics (against Helen Gahagan Douglas) and a series of scandals (including a political donation controversy that nearly forced his resignation as vice president, and a political favoritism scandal somehow involving his brother Donald and Howard Hughes). Well before Watergate, Nixon was not viewed as an ethical paragon. But he was generally viewed as smart, tenacious, tough and knowledgeable about the world. Which sounds familiar.

The context of Nixon’s two presidential victories (1968 and 1972) was unique. For many Americans, Nixon represented social order in a frightening world of riots, assassinations and bell-bottom jeans. But a reputation for toughness was also seen as a presidential qualification during the Cold War, and Nixon (who had gone toe to toe with Nikita Khrushchev in the “kitchen debate”) benefited from the contrast to Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern.

The comparison to Clinton can certainly be overplayed. By all accounts, she lacks Nixon’s personal awkwardness and strangeness. But a portion of the characterization “Nixonian” is a compliment: hardworking, untiring, relentless. While another portion—wary, secretive, ruthless—can lead down some dark alleys.

Right now, Clinton is generally benefiting, not suffering, from this reputation. The next president, from either party, will need to provide a contrast of strength and purpose to President Obama’s foreign policy of disengagement that has resulted in disaster and led to inadequate, ad hoc responses. Despite her association with the failed “Russian reset,” Clinton is generally positioned to Obama’s interventionist right on foreign policy matters (especially on Syria). She is a Democrat who would be seen as a tougher, more responsible alternative to her former employer.

And this reputation is also helping Clinton within her party. Her pre-campaign has been rusty—her awkward book tour, her claim that she left office “flat broke,” her exorbitant speaking fees, her foundation’s acceptance of donations by foreign governments. Democratic concerns about her skills are real; but public criticisms are rare and mild. Some of this reflects Clinton’s position as a prohibitive front-runner, but some is also the intimidating effect of her style of politics. No Democrat wants to be on the wrong list.

Clinton is not unbeatable, but the effort to label her as Nixonian will not beat her. Republicans face a very difficult electoral map; their party is still viewed more negatively than the alternative; they have managed to alienate large numbers of working-class and minority voters; and all of their prospective presidential candidates are currently losing to Clinton by double digits.

If the next election is viewed by Republicans as a referendum on Hillary Clinton’s scandals—and this distracts from the task of reconstituting the Republican message and appeal—then Clinton may take the Nixonian path to the Oval Office.

(Washington Post Writers Group)

Ted Alan Sharp

T. Sharp
T. Sharp

Ted Alan Sharp of Keizer lost his battle against cancer Friday, March 20. Sharp was 66.

Ted was born in Ontario, Ore. on Aug. 12,1948 to Eugene and Flo Sharp and was raised in New Plymouth, Idaho, graduating from New Plymouth High School in 1966.

He graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelors of science degree in economics in 1970. His graduate work was at Portland State University where he majored in accounting. As a CPA he worked in public accounting for several years later moving to private industry.

While at the UO he met his wife Marilyn. They married in 1971 and in 1977 welcomed daughter Sarah.

Ted was an avid skier, moving to ski patrol when he entered the accounting world. Racquetball and golf soon followed as favorite pastimes.

Ted and Marilyn loved their early marriage treks following history through central Europe, Russia and the U.S. Later, spring breaks were a favorite on any sunny island where he enjoyed snorkeling, sunshine and spending time with friends.

When Sarah entered college and her studies took her across the nation and around the world, he and Marilyn enjoyed visiting her as often as possible in her far off and exotic places.

Ted dearly loved his family and friends and enjoyed being part of their lives. He was surrounded by many caring and loving people in his final days.

Ted was preceded in death by his parents. Survivors include his wife, daughter and sister Renee Holiday; his brothers-in-law Ron Wilkinson and Marvin Cruickshank with their wives Karen and Kelly, seven nieces and nephews, plus 14 great nieces and nephews, all of whom he loved dearly.

A Funeral Mass and Celebration of Life will be held at St. Edward Catholic Church in Keizer on Tuesday, March 31 at 10:30 a.m. The family respectfully requests memorials to the cancer research center of your choice.

Please visit to leave a note of condolence for the family. Arrangements in care of Keizer Funeral Chapel.

William C. Drakeley Sr.

W. Drakeley, Sr.
W. Drakeley, Sr.

William C. Drakeley Sr.,101, died Thursday, March 19.

He was born October 3, 1913, in Angie, North Dakota, the son of William C. and Sadie P. Jones Drakeley. The family moved to Salem when he was 17 where he graduated from Salem High School.

As a young man Bill worked many jobs including logging, the TB Hospital and mowing the Marion County Courthouse lawn. In 1933 he apprenticed under Burt Edwards to learn the meat business. He and Edwards partnered to open Keizer Food Lockers on North River Road in 1948.

He was active in forming the Keizer Volunteer Fire Department, the Keizer Lions Club and the Commercial Club which was the predecessor to the Keizer Merchants Association, which later became the Keizer Chamber of Commerce.

Bill volunteered many hours for his church, Knight Memorial Congregational and belonged to several fishing organizations. He always worked hard.

He met Elva Irene McCune at Knight Memorial Church and they were married May 23, 1936. They had three children: William C. Drakeley III (Joyce), Janice Ellen Brown (Dennis), and Linda Jean Hammer (Peter). There are seven grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren. Elva died in 1986.  They had been married 50 years.

Following Elva’s passing, he married longtime friend Mildred C. Hallisy on Nov. 28, 1987. He then had an additional family of three stepchildren: James Hallisy (Geri), Marilyn Foster, and Cheryl  Keeney (Richard). There are six step grandchildren and 11 step great-grandchildren.

Bill was preceded in death by wife Elva Drakeley, wife Mildred Hallisy and stepdaughter Marilyn Foster. Also preceding him in death were his five brothers and sisters: Doris Cochran, Clarice Stewart, George Drakeley, Helen Pierpoint and Ray Drakeley.

He is survived by his sister-in-law Helen Drakeley of Dallas and many nieces and nephews.

Interment wast Thursday, March 26, 1 p.m. at Belcrest Memorial Cemetery. A memorial service followed at 2:30 p.m. at Keizer Funeral Chapel, 4365 River Road North in Keizer.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association, or a charity of your choice.

Pearson pleads guilty in murder case

Brett Angus Pearson pled guilty on Thursday, March 26 in the March 2014 murder of his mom and attempted murder of his dad.
Brett Angus Pearson pled guilty on Thursday, March 26 in the March 2014 murder of his mom and attempted murder of his dad.

Of the Keizertimes

The son accused in the murder of his mom and the attempted murder of his dad has pled guilty.

Brett Angus Pearson, 18, pled guilty on Thursday morning to one count of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder with a firearm and one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder.
The charges stemmed from the March 5, 2014 murder of Michelle Pearson and the attempted murder of her husband, Wilfred “Bill” Pearson. The guilty plea was entered in the courtroom of Marion County Circuit Court judge Dale Penn.

David Wilson, Marion County deputy district attorney, said the trial against Brett Pearson had been set for Sept. 15 to Oct. 2. The guilty plea means that trial won’t be happening, with sentencing scheduled for Aug. 28.

“A lot of times it’s easier on a family to not go through a trial,” Wilson said on Thursday. “There are some details that don’t come out in a change of plea.”

Wilson said the sentencing range would be between 30 years and life.

At this point, Thursday’s plea has no impact on the other teenager charged in the crime. Brett Pearson’s friend Robert Daniel Miller III, 18, is scheduled to go to trial in November. Wilson said on Thursday’s it is too early to know if Miller will change his plea as well.

Both Pearson and Miller were arraigned on two counts each of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder with a firearm in March 2014. According to an indictment, Pearson agreed to pay Miller “money and things of value to unlawfully and intentionally” cause the death of his mom. In the same act, according to the indictment, Pearson agreed with Miller to cause the death of his parents between Feb. 1 and March 5, 2014.

Keizer Police Department personnel responded to the Pearson house on Ventura Loop around 11:30 p.m. last March 5, after an alarm at the house was activated. The deceased body of Michelle Pearson was found inside the house, while Bill Pearson was transported to Salem Hospital with “serious gunshot injuries.” He was released from the hospital about two weeks later.

Brett Pearson was arrested around 1 a.m. that night, with Robert Miller arrested a short time later.

Lady Celts return with big power at the plate

McNary senior Kimi Ito reaches to get an out at second base in a game last season. Ito is one of three seniors returning this season. (File photo)
McNary senior Kimi Ito reaches to get an out at second base in a game last season. Ito is one of three seniors returning this season. (File photo)

Of the Keizertimes

The drawback and the boon to adding three new softball teams to the league this season is that all three are something like powerhouses.

“One of the things that it will have an impact on is power ratings. When we have a struggling program somewhere in the league, we can play them and beat them 23-0 and our ranking will drop. When you do that three times, it takes a toll,” said Kevin Wise, head coach of the McNary High School softball program, regarding the smaller league the Lady Celts competed in last season.

The three teams added to the ranks of the new Greater Valley Conference -– Forest Grove, McMinnville and West Albany high schools – all made it to the state tournament last year. While the Celtics, Vikings and Grizzlies were all eliminated in the first round, the Bulldogs made it to the quarterfinals in the 5A competition.

“The new schools are generally stronger than some of the other teams in our league and we’ll only play each team twice,” Wise said.

However, McNary will also have to contend with South Salem High School last year’s 6A state champs.

The Lady Celts lost only two seniors to graduation last season, which means the team will return a number of athletes with a bounty of varsity experience.

This time around, the Celts have three seniors in outfielder Kimi Ito, pitcher Megan Ulrey and catcher Kiana Villareal. In addition to their strong performances in the field, all three were essential to what became an offense-heavy team last season. Ulrey started getting looks from colleges as a junior in the circle, and she’s already excited for what this season holds.

“We haven’t even started yet and we’re like sisters. Just to spend the whole season with these girls is going to be great,” she said. “We still have a lot of room to grow though.”

Villarreal said she’s eager to face some of the new teams’ players that

Nuttbrock proposes to spruce up what he built

Jerry Nuttbrock submitted this proposal for sprucing up the Keizer Rotary Amphitheater at Keizer Rapids Park during last week’s Parks Board meeting. (Submitted)
Jerry Nuttbrock submitted this proposal for sprucing up the Keizer Rotary Amphitheater at Keizer Rapids Park during last week’s Parks Board meeting. (Submitted)

Of the Keizertimes

Jerry Nuttbrock is quite familiar with the Keizer Rotary Amphitheater at Keizer Rapids Park.

After all, he helped build it and he lives pretty close to it.

Now, Nuttbrock wants to class it up.

“I’ve been looking for a project to sink my teeth into since doing the amphitheater,” Nuttbrock said at the March 10 Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting. “I want to propose one, about some ideas I’ve been having in my head.”

Nuttbrock, who recently cleared 198 trees in the orchards at KRP for the Big Toy playground project (as featured in the March 6 Keizertimes), showed Parks Board members sketches of his plans.

“Let’s call it improvements in amenities related to the amphitheater,” Nuttbrock said. “Maybe you could call it a patio for the amphitheater. The sketch I put together has five components. I think of them as separate. They can be funded separately, even though they go together. I want to pitch each item. I’ve hung a price on four of them.

“This would be done subject to getting volunteers,” he added. “I’d be willing to spearhead it like I did with the amphitheater, to get a team of volunteers which would drive the costs down. This is sort of a wish list. Think of it as a mini-master plan around the amphitheater.”

Nuttbrock’s proposed amenities are a hardscape patio (worth $12,000), a cantilevered deck ($8,700), a fireplace/pizza oven/barbecue ($5,000), a tree platform ($1,500) and a new food concession building which doesn’t have a dollar amount attached yet.

The patio would be in the area behind the current snack shack and would be about 2,400 square feet in size. As proposed, there would be two planters along the front.

There would be a step down from the patio to the proposed cantilevered deck, which would be approximately 900 square feet in size.

“I want it to look good from the amphitheater,” Nuttbrock said. “This deck would kind of float out there, attached to the maple trees. You could create an area with picnic tables. That would afford a great view to watch the amphitheater.”

Nuttbrock said the tree platform or “eagles nest” would be a “treehouse without the tree part.” It would have seating for two or three people, which he could see as being raffled off for viewing of amphitheater events.

“You have to be there to appreciate the idea,” he said. “I just thought it was a cool idea, which would give us bragging rights as far as amenities in the park.”

The fireplace would sit on the back of the patio, a freestanding stone or brick unit with a chimney.

“There’s a spot there for a wood fire pizza oven and a place to drop in a barbecue to add a little class to it,” Nuttbrock said. “The fireplace would be open on three sides.”

Nuttbrock explained the basic premise behind his plans.

“The whole idea is to dress the amphitheater up, to take advantage of what we have going already,” he said. “I want to add some class. What I see in my mind is a nice wood frame structure, a rustic looking building that fits well in the nature of the park that would have some class. That’s the whole point, to put more polish in the amphitheater and to make it more functional. This is meant to compliment the Charge house and whatever develops there.”

In regards to a question from Parks Board member Clint Holland, Nuttbrock said cost figures were estimates.

“It depends on the design,” he said. “I assume you would want some input. The numbers would flex and would go down with donated material and labor.”

Holland estimated the new additions could add seating for about 75 to 100 more people.

Parks Board member Donna Bradley liked what she saw.

“I applaud your thinking,” Bradley told Nuttbrock. “It would be a great amenity. I could see this as a wedding venue. I would encourage you to get harder figures and to let us know what kind of volunteer group you can get together. We don’t have a lot of money for the whole thing.”

When asked by Tanya Hamilton about which item would go first, Nuttbrock said the hardscape patio would make the most sense.

Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer, said the park master plan incorporate the whole backyard area of the Charge house, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

There were a couple of items, however, that were an issue for Lawyer.

“The fireplace scares me, especially with the open fire,” he said. “Maybe I need to just get by my concern. As far as the cantilevered deck, that would need permits. The concept is fine. There is a lot of detail here. There’s not a lot of process that has to happen.”

Hamilton and Parks Board chair David Louden echoed Bradley in wanting some more details.

“We’re kind of excited about the idea,” Scott Klug said. “I need to go there to see what you’re thinking, but it sounds awesome.”

Nuttbrock noted he was expecting the project to take a while to complete.

“I had no misconceptions that this thing would just pop out of the ground this spring,” he said. “I was thinking it would take a while.”

Plans progress for sand volleyball courts

Keizer’s Hans Schneider would like to replace the current sand volleyball court at Keizer Rapids Park with at least two new ones. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Keizer’s Hans Schneider would like to replace the current sand volleyball court at Keizer Rapids Park with at least two new ones. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

In terms of new amenities at Keizer Rapids Park, most of the attention has been paid to the upcoming Big Toy playground project.

That’s not the only amenity being worked on, however.

Last September, Hans Schneider pledged his willingness to put in a new sand volleyball court at KRP.

Schneider brought the topic up again at the March 10 Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting.

“Volleyball is a major part of fall sports, but there’s no place for kids to play it in Keizer except a gym,” he said. “We’re hoping to get two or three sand volleyball courts at Keizer Rapids Park, which could be used year-round. We’ve been doing quite a bit of research. We’re trying to make a place where kids can go to play volleyball. We’re trying to create a program to teach (younger) kids how to play volleyball.

“My wife and I have pledged $20,000 to build these courts,” Schneider added. “It’s so generations to come can play volleyball here. Once the court are built, there is virtually no maintenance. You would need new nets every three to five years. They last if they’re built right.”

Parks Board member Dylan Juran asked about the current “ragtag” sand volleyball court.

“That court wasn’t built properly,” Schneider said. “We don’t use it. These would be professional courts.”

Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer, said the new KRP master plan approved last year calls for a new parking lot to be added south of the one currently at the dog park, with room south of that for two new volleyball courts.

“There should be room,” Lawyer said. “It will replace the sand court that’s there now and basically be in the same area.”

Schneider said he’d be happy with two courts and perhaps a third. He also pointed out he’s been involved in coaching volleyball for about 20 years.

“Four years ago we started a high school volleyball program with the sand court at Chemeketa (Community College),” Schneider said. “We want to see something like that for Keizer kids. If we do, there will be some incredible volleyball at McNary, not that there’s isn’t now.”

Schneider submitted a bid showing the project would cost about $33,000.

“How would you get the rest of the money?” Parks Board chair David Louden asked.

“I’m hoping the city can put it in,” Schneider responded.

Louden suggested Schneider could apply for the Parks Board’s matching grant program, which partners city funds with volunteer labor and materials to get projects done. Lawyer said the city’s System Development Charges (SDCs) could also be an option.

Clint Holland wanted to know what kind of timeline Schneider was looking at.

“How soon do you want to start working on this?” Holland asked.

Schneider made it sound like the sooner, the better.

“Whenever we can,” he said. “If we could do it this year, that would be great.”

After more discussion, Louden asked Schneider what he wanted the Parks Board to do at the meeting.

“I would like you to approve putting in sand courts,” Schneider said.

Holland made a motion to send a request to the Keizer City Council to pay for the remaining cost of three courts, with Lawyer amending to include measurements to make sure the courts fit in the space. The motion was approved unanimously.

Juran talked about the proposal during his committee report to the Keizer City Council on Monday. Councilors overall expressed support for the idea, with mayor Cathy Clark suggesting the Parks Board matching grant program be used first before any other city funds.

Everything you need to know about McNary’s turf project

A design mock-up of a planned artificial turf field at McNary High School  coming this summer. (Submitted)
A design mock-up of a planned artificial turf field at McNary High School coming this summer. (Submitted)

McNary High School will be installing a new artificial turf field this summer.

The turf will replace the existing grass field, which means McKay High School will be the only high school in the Salem-Keizer School District with a natural field.

In the two months since Keizertimes last talked with organizers, the project has continued apace. Here are some of the most important questions we asked with updates including the latest information.

What exactly is this project?

About 80,000 square feet of dirt and grass will be removed from the existing Flesher Field at McNary. It will be replaced with FieldTurf, an artificial surface.

How much will it cost?

About $1 million.

Who is paying for it?

The cost of the field will be covered by financial contributions and in-kind donations in approximately a 50/50 split. No Salem-Keizer School District funds are being used.

How will the turf field improve options at the school?

Due to the up-keep involved in natural fields, Flesher Field can currently only be used about 160 times per year. The turf field will be able to withstand 10 times that usage each year over the next 10 years.

Who will benefit?

Both students and the community will benefit from the installation. More sporting activities, including McNary’s soccer and lacrosse teams will be able to host games on the field. The McNary marching band will be able to practice there, and additional physical education classes will be permitted to use it. Community events, like Relay for Life, could also schedule time to use the field provided it does not conflict with school events.

When will work begin?

The project will break ground June 1 and existing dirt and grass will be removed during the next couple of weeks. After that, the groundwork will be laid for the new turf, meaning rock, concrete and drainage piping.

What happens next?

The actual turf will be installed beginning in July.

When will it be used for the first time?

Organizers are hoping to have the field ready for McNary’s annual Blue Day celebration, the third Saturday in August.

How has fundraising been done?

Merchandise sales, auction proceeds, and a variety of other fundraisers have contributed to financial needs. Advertising spaces on the field are being sold.

Who has purchased advertising?

While no names have been released, organizers have a local health care business, tire business, local real estate and local financial representative lined up for the home side of the field. No alcohol, tobacco or weapon-related advertising will be permitted.

How much has been raised so far?

About $375,000 in cash. In-kind donations of rock, fuel, and trucking are still needed. All other in-kind needs are locked in.

How can someone contribute to project?

For financial contributions, visit, or contact Ted Anagnos at [email protected]

In-turf advertising is still available on the visitors side of the field. There are five spaces left and the cost is $15,000. Logo spots will remain on the field for the next 10 years.

Who do I talk with about in-kind donations?

Project consultant Bill McNutt at [email protected], or McNary Athletic Director Ron Richards at 503-399-3238 or [email protected]

Where can I get more information?


McNary baseball back in the swing

Celt Matt Aguilar hits a line drive to the outfield in McNary’s first game of the season Monday, March 16. McNary beat Cleveland High School 14-7. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Celt Matt Aguilar hits a line drive to the outfield in McNary’s first game of the season Monday, March 16. McNary beat Cleveland High School 14-7. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Last year, the McNary High School varsity baseball made it to the playoffs and took out powerhouse Jesuit High School in the first round of the playoffs.

The Celtics finished third in league with a conference record of 8-7. It was the best year yet in Head Coach Larry Keeker’s tenure in the saddle.

This time around, the league’s Pitcher of the Year, Mickey Walker, is back for his senior season. Walker finished the 2014 season 6-0 with three shutouts, one one-hitter, a pair of two-hitters and a win against every team in the league

While that bodes well for the Celts, the pitching staff beyond Walker remains something of a question, said Keeker.

“I like who we have on the pitching staff and it’s a deep pool, but there are a lot of questions that won’t be answered until they get into the game,” she said.

The Celts can boast a number of seniors this season including Jacob Vasas, Ben Cummings, Cole Thomas, Nick LaFountaine, Connor Goff and Tim Hays.

Hays said the addition of three teams to the new-this-year Greater Valley Conference wasn’t a huge concern.

“We’ll probably have to be more strategic with pitching, but it’s just going out and hitting the ball on offense,” Hays said. “We can hit a lot of line drives, throw a lot of strikes and I don’t think our defense will be making a huge amount of errors.”

Goff said he was eager to see sophomore Josiah Gilbert on the mound this season.

“He pitched real well for us in summer league this season,” Goff said.

Walker, who has already signed on to pitch with St. Martin’s University next fall, said he just wants to see the team play competitively and with energy while getting some W’s on the mound.

During spring break, the Celts are headed to Arizona to compete with other teams from around the nation.

“We play four times and watch three spring training games, but the real payoff is coming back having spent bonding time with the whole team,” Keeker said.

In recent years, the team has stuck around the area to play in Oregon-based tournaments, but frequently made the pilgrimage to Arizona before that.

Goff said the key to a better season this year will begin with the first pitch of every game.

“We have to come out and start putting the ball in play. It’s easier to start hot than get warmed up,” Goff said.

McNary won its first game of the season Monday, March 16, hosting Cleveland High School. After a pair of errors plated two runs for Cleveland in the second inning. The Celts responded with six of their own in the bottom of the frame en route to a 14-7 win.

(Editor’s note: This version  of the story differs from the one that appeared in the paper Merch 20. Due to reporter error, stats from last year’s season were incorrect in the print edition. Keizertimes regrets the error.)