The DAM Mailbag: Baseball, Beaver Football’s 2023 Season, Jade Carey’s impact on OSU Gymnastics


OMN Sports

Ryan Harlan, Sports Columnist

It’s that time again where we crack open the Barometer Sports PO box. I read your Oregon State sports questions and I answer them in the DAM Mailbag. 

Impact of Jade Carey on OSU Gymnastics recruiting? – @WarrenDGray 

The impact of Jade Carey on Oregon State Gymnastics recruiting is definitely a big factor. Now, I don’t think that she’s the sole reason for recruits deciding to come to Oregon State but an appealing factor for sure. I don’t want to take away from the success that program has had both historically and nationally as well as from the individual accomplishments of gymnasts that have competed for the Beavers. I think that for a recruit getting to compete with and learn from an Olympic gold medalist gymnast would be an important factor in deciding where to take their gymnastics career at the college level. 

Why has this season been disappointing so far for Beaver Softball? I thought they would take the next step after last season’s success? – Wes Flow 

I would agree with you in the assessment of this season, but that’s mainly because of all the injuries the team has suffered, including injuries to Savanah Whatley, Sara Haendiges, and Kiki Escobar to name a few players. The team has been decimated by injuries and that’s forced head coach Laura Berg to play a bunch of different players and shift players positions around on the field to mitigate those losses. The record for the team also doesn’t tell the full story either as in some games they’ve been competitive despite their injuries, but at the same time haven’t been able to close them out either. Looking ahead to next season, I do expect the team to be much healthier and improved. I think this is an anomaly of a season and wouldn’t expect the struggles of this season to occur again in 2024. 

If Jonathan Smith turns DJ into the quarterback he was projected to be out of high school, how worried should Beaver Nation be that Smith gets a coaching offer that he can’t turn down (NFL or bigger college)? – Brian Rathbone 

If he does, I don’t think Smith ends up at another college partly because of him raising his family here and the time it takes for a coach to establish a new culture. With him already being a head coach of a top-20 team there’s no other place he could go to. Personally, I think that an NFL opportunity could be possible for Smith in the future based on what he’s been able to accomplish during his coaching career before and at Oregon State. I could see him earning maybe a position coach role or a coordinator position, but I think it would have to be with the right team and system. However, with Smith’s current contract extension locking him in until the 2029 season with Beaver Football and with how much he loves Corvallis, I’d say that Beaver Nation should not be really worried about him leaving for now. 

What are you expecting out of sophomore running back Damien Martinez this season? Also how has the defense looked so far this spring? – @SeanKetz23

I’m expecting Damien Martinez to be better than last season and reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark, which he was close to his freshman year. I also expect Martinez to be a little more involved in the passing game with him improving his pass protection as that is something that running backs coach Bhonapha has emphasized in the offseason. In terms of the defense, they have looked solid so far in camp, there’s still some things to work on with figuring out starters for positions groups like inside linebacker and cornerback. However, there’s a lot of good depth in those groups and starting positions won’t be decided till fall camp rolls around. 

Any indication of players feeling the pressure to outperform last year? The bar has been raised and I’m worried it can get to some of them – Josh Harley 

Not really, I understand the concern though, but I haven’t seen any indication from the players that I’ve talked to in spring practices. However, the players know the expectations are higher this year after the success of last season and that they’re looking to improve upon that success, which every player has echoed the sentiment. Offensive lineman Jake Levengood echoed that sentiment in a post practice interview for spring football on Tuesday, April 11 mentioning that the goal is to go from good to great and great to best, which the Beavers want to be at when the season starts on Sept 3. So, I think that Beaver Nation shouldn’t be too worried about the players feeling that pressure, that hunger to get better is there like it was last year and the players are committed to being better than last year. 

Do you think the past month for Beaver Baseball was a turnaround that will continue throughout the rest of the season? – Caleb Powell 

I think the past month was a big turnaround for the team, they found some momentum and are going to carry this throughout the season. I also agree the team was struggling at times in games to score runs to go along with shaky pitching performances but that’s also part of baseball at the same time, it’s going to happen. Now, I understand the expectations that are around this team every year and I get it especially with a team that’s earned three national championships, but fans must relax and not act like the sky is falling when these struggles occur. Now, with that being said I do expect this team to make it to the post-season otherwise it would be a failure. 

How do you think the Oregon State Men’s Basketball team will look next season? – Sam Misa 

I think it’s a little too early to give an exact prediction until things get settled with the transfer portal, departures from the team, and the new incoming freshman into the program. Now, I would expect this team to be improved and win more than 11 games, which won’t cut it by any means in terms of being a successful season, but it will still be better than the 3-28 season two years ago. I do think that a potential expectation for the Beavers’ record for the 2023-24 season would be somewhere around .500, but that’s a very early prediction before seeing the finalized roster. 

Any word on how Kelze Howard and Thomas Collins have looked in spring practice? Or any other D-lineman standing out? – @Beaversfan69

Both Kelze Howard and Thomas Collins have looked good so far in spring practices, but Howard has gotten a lot more buzz throughout spring practices than Collins. Howard arrived on campus in winter term and has dealt with a bit of an early learning curve thrown at him but has picked up the playbook so far in spring practices. Howard could potentially have a role as a contributor on the defensive line this season depending on how fall camp looks for him, but we’ll have to wait and see. The other linemen on the defensive side of the ball that have stood out to me so far are Takari Hickle, Sione Lolohea, and Joe Golden.

Hey readers! Want your Oregon State Sports questions answered on The DAM mailbag? Submit them to me on Twitter @Ryan_Harlan7 or by email @ [email protected].

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