February 1, 2024

Umatilla High School Baseball On The Climb With Coach Tanner Clark

4 min read| Published On: February 1st, 2024|

By Kyle Coppola

Umatilla High School Baseball On The Climb With Coach Tanner Clark

4 min read| Published On: February 1st, 2024|

The Umatilla High School Baseball team is ready for the 2024 spring season. Third-year head coach Tanner Clark is expecting big things with a strong senior class returning. The Bulldogs are coming off a successful 2023 season when they finished 17-9, one of the best records in program history.

(Tanner Clark played for Umatilla and Eustis High School. He also played at University of North Florida. He helped Umatilla to one of their best seasons in school history last year.)

The Bulldogs swept much larger programs such as The Villages, Lyman, Wekiva, and East Ridge in 2023. They split the season series between local rivals Mount Dora High and Leesburg High. Umatilla also beat cross-town rival Eustis High School for the first time in program history. The team is likewise coming off a strong 2023 fall ball season with only one loss.

(Trey Craft is an amazing story. He has had to battle through a ton of adversity to get to where he is including a knee injury. He committed to FAMU. Craft is one of the top catchers in Lake County entering 2024.)

The Bulldogs are led by multiple loyal seniors who have been a part of the Umatilla athletics programs since they were young children. Senior Catcher and Florida A&M University commit Trey Craft lead the charge in 2024. Craft is an absolute unit behind the plate, finishing the 2023 season hitting .340 and among state leaders in stolen bases. Senior outfielder Kannon Steinke has hit over .310 in three years as a varsity starter. Steinke is among team leaders in RBIs and is also a strong leader on and off the field. Umatilla also has senior pitcher and utility player Logan Bowling returning after a strong junior campaign. Bowling won 5 games in 2023, including a 3-hit, 86-pitch shutout of Mount Dora High in 2023.

(Kannon Steinke enters his senior year as one of Umatilla’s best options at the plate. Steinke has averaged .310 hitting at the plate as a varsity starter. That is among the top averages in Lake County over a three year period.)

Other seniors include Nick Adams and Bailey Teeters, who have been in the program and contribute. Teeters has been one of the best first basemen in Lake County. Tate Bagwell, a junior and a pitcher, will cover ground in center field and on the mound. Bagwell led the Umatilla Bulldogs in batting average in 2023. Junior Wyatt Strawbridge has been a rock on the mound for the Bulldogs and will return as one of the go-to guys for Coach Clark. On the mound, Strawbridge led the Bulldogs in strikeouts in 2023. Bagwell and Strawbridge made some phenomenal plays in the outfield in 2023. Junior first baseman Gavin Touchton is a solid left-handed hitter who will also contribute.

(Wyatt Strawbridge in his batting stance. We are really looking foward to what he can produce in 2024.)

Sophomore players Keegan St. Amant and Dominic Mathe had strong freshman years in 2023 and will fill roles all over the diamond. St. Amant was among team leaders in many categories as a right-handed pitcher. Aiden Ross played every game at shortstop as a freshman and will be a joy to watch as he further develops the next three seasons. Freshman Nick Sande will also be a great addition as a left-handed pitcher and outfielder.

Coach Tanner Clark is a local product, having played at Umatilla and Eustis High School. He is a graduate of Eustis High. Coach Clark had a successful college baseball career at Lake-Sumter State College and the University of North Florida. Coach Clark coaches the game the right way, and he expects a professional approach from his players. He has the Umatilla Bulldogs program headed in the right direction.

(From left to right, Trey Craft, Kannon Steinke and Logan Bowling. They have been playing with Umatilla Athletics ever since they were kids.)

(From left to right Kannon Steinke, Trey Craft and Logan Bowling. These three along with other members of Umatilla have been dedicated to building a lasting legacy. They are proud to represent Umatilla High School and their small town.)

Umatilla High School has done more than just improve the baseball team statistically in the past four years. With new Principal Brent Fraizer, Assistant Principal Tes Rogers, and Athletic Directors Pat Todd and Deta Brunson, the whole atmosphere and facilities have improved.

Parental and community involvement has also improved. Players now walk around proud to wear the Umatilla Uniform. For years, Umatilla was viewed as a punching bag, but that is beginning to change as the teams and facilities are receiving much-needed upgrades. The results reflect this.

Umatilla has restored the batting cages, added new bullpens, upgraded the player clubhouse, and renovated the natural grass playing surface and infield. Players deserve to play on a natural grass surface, and Umatilla has really improved the quality of their playing fields in recent years.

(Logan Bowling will be one of the top starting pitching options that the Bulldogs will have in 2023.)

Umatilla Baseball also completed construction on a new concession stand that serves some pretty fine meals on a high school baseball game night!

The 2024 Umatilla High School Baseball team has a majority of players who have grown up together and played together through Umatilla Babe Ruth league or other local travel teams. They have ultimately stuck together. These young men have been so loyal to their hometown Umatilla High School. They have a chance to have a successful 2024 season. No matter how the season turns out, they will always be able to look back and know they were part of building a better program for the future. Something to be proud of! Go Bulldogs!

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About the Author: Kyle Coppola

Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.

For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.

Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.

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