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Packers playing well after tough stretch

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Dustin Driver is scheduled to make his Apple Valley Packers debut tomorrow as the Wenatchee-based senior legion team will play against the Yakima Beetles in a road doubleheader.

Driver, a senior-to-be at Wenatchee High School, was a member of the Wenatchee AppleSox at the start of their West Coast League season, but left the squad in mid-June to participate in all-star tournaments around the country.

Packers coach Jerrod Riggan isn’t totally sure if Driver will be able to pitch for his team tomorrow, but Riggan would definitely welcome the UCLA recruit’s presence, as members of the Packers’ pitching staff are nursing some tired arms.

In the past two weeks, Apple Valley has played eight doubleheaders.

“We knew our pitching would be thin with the stretch that we’ve had,” Riggan said. “If Driver can throw for us tomorrow, our pitching will be fine for the rest of the season. If he doesn’t show, we’ll have to piece together (pitching for) a game, and that doesn’t always work too well. Hopefully he shows up.”

The Packers started the season with a 7-0 record, but struggled mightily during the first couple of weeks of league play. However, they’ve won six of their past eight games to get their league record to 9-11, and currently sit in fifth place in the league standings.

The top five teams will advance to the regional tournament, which will be held July 21-22.

“Guys are starting to learn how to hit the pitching,” Riggan said. “We’re not taking the approach that we have to hit a double off the wall every time, and instead we’re hitting the ball up the middle and to the opposite field. We’re being smarter on the base paths. We had an issue with errors early on, but now we’re limiting those errors and playing smart.

“I’m proud of them. They’ve come a long way so far. This group of guys hasn’t been used to failure, so for them to come back (after a rough patch) has been nice to see. We’ve been competing every game.”

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