News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Forste back in the saddle for Santiam baseball

Like most athletic directors, Santiam High’s Clint Forste does a little bit of everything at the school, from wiping up pop spills on the court during basketball games to his high-energy starting lineup announcements for volleyball.

He also still does a bit of coaching and his return to the Wolverines’ baseball program has put a bit of a buzz into spring in the Canyon.

In the past few years coach Forste had been assisting Greg Grenbemer with the softball team, but with that program in good shape with five playoff appearances in six seasons, athletic director Forste chose to move over to baseball.

“Returning to baseball was a tough decision for me, but ultimately I feel I made a good decision,” Forste told The Canyon Weekly. “I’ve been a baseball guy my whole life and I really enjoy the adversity and details of the game. I feel our softball program is in great shape right now and our baseball program has struggled of late. The timing was good and I feel the baseball program needed someone with a lot of experience.

“The softball program has a lot of great girls involved that I truly enjoy coaching and I will miss being around them everyday. It was a tough decision, but like I said, the timing was right and I feel very comfortable with where our softball program is right now.”

Forste’s squad is off to a 2-1 start, with that win total matching that of the 2023 team. The Wolverines defeated Salem Academy 14-0 and Siletz Valley 9-5 before falling 8-0 on Tuesday against two-time defending Class 2A-1A state champion Kennedy.

Forste still is getting to know his players.

“Honestly, I’m not completely sure who our top returners are at this point,” he said. “I’ve never coached this group of boys in baseball before. However, I like what I’m seeing. The boys are working hard and being coachable. They’re learning how I do things and I’m learning what our strengths and weaknesses are. With only one senior out [Zak Rupert], our underclassmen are going to have to step up this year. I believe they have the ability, but it will come down to their mindset and whether they believe in their abilities.”

Turnout is right around 20, and that’s a key figure for Forste, who wants to develop as many players as possible by fielding a junior varsity team.

“I will do everything I can to have a JV team,” he said.  “If I need to carry nine on varsity and nine on JV that’s what I will do. It’s imperative for these younger kids to get game experience this year. We are trying to rebuild this program.”

Forste already has used five pitchers, Owen Rupert, Mason Lindemann, Hunter Titus, Jakob Crowell and Payte Hansen and says he has good depth behind the plate as well.

The Wolverines will be playing in a slightly tweaked Special District 3. Gone is Blanchet Catholic, which ran the table in league play at 18-0 and wound up second to Kennedy at state a year ago. Two teams, Crosshill Christian and Crow/City First Christian Academy, will join holdovers East Linn Christian, Culver, Monroe/Alsea, Central Linn and Regis.

“I think the new districts will be beneficial for our guys,” Forste said. “I think we have the capability of competing on a daily basis. The question is: will we be able to put it all together day in and day out. Baseball and softball are unlike any other sports. They are games of failure and your ability to move past each failure and continue to compete will be the key.”

Santiam had games scheduled with Lowell and Colton after The Canyon Weekly presstime and participates in a tournament next Monday and Tuesday at Scio that also features Harrisburg and Gaston. The Wolverines open league play on April 2 at East Linn Christian.

Scio, meanwhile, has opened 2-2, with wins against Salem Academy (23-4) and Vernonia/Jewell (9-1) followed by losses to Clatskanie (13-3) and Valley Catholic (11-0). The Loggers open Class 3A Special District 2 play on April 2 against visiting Amity.

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