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Senior Spotlight: Dunkle felt Justin-Siena baseball had championship potential this spring
Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight: Dunkle felt Justin-Siena baseball had championship potential this spring

From the Senior Spotlight: A celebration of Napa County student athletes series
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With the cancellation of the spring season for high school sports, the Napa Valley Register will recognize senior athletes over the next few months who have had their careers come to a premature end due to the coronavirus pandemic. Today we focus on Justin-Siena multi-sport standout Nolan Dunkle. The three-year varsity baseball starter held a key spot in the Braves’ pitching rotation during his career and on the gridiron was an anchor on both sides of the line.

Sports: Baseball and football.

Years on varsity: Three years in baseball, two years in football.

By the numbers: Career .384 batting average on varsity with 45 hits and 24 RBIs. In 6 games this spring, he had a team-high .562 batting average with 9 hits, 7 RBIs and 3 doubles. As a pitcher, he had a career 6-6 overall record with 128 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings and 3 saves. In 10 innings pitched this spring, he was 1-0 with a 0.70 earned run average with 12 strikeouts and 5 hits allowed.

What was your reaction to the spring season being canceled?

Initially, I was pretty bummed out, but hopeful that there would be a speedy resolution and we could continue playing. But, as news continued to come out and the season was officially put to an end, it finally hit me that my baseball season was over. It’s even more heartbreaking because of how hopeful I was about our season, I know that there were big things ahead. We had real chemistry.

What had you hoped to accomplish in your sport this spring?

To keep it short and sweet, win a championship. I had hoped that we as a team would finally reach the potential that has always been there, that we would finally pull it all together. And I truly believe that that would have happened.

How has coronavirus changed your life?

The coronavirus outbreak has been quite the unusual experience for me. I never would have thought my season would end like it did. It almost doesn’t feel real. However, even though it’s an unfortunate situation to have my senior year cut short, I still feel lucky to be in the situation I am in because I know that others have it a lot worse during this crisis.

Have you picked up any new hobbies as you social distance?

To be honest, not really. Although I did start riding my bike a little more often, just for the sake of staying active. Besides that, I have been keeping busy trying to get my work done for online school and keeping my baseball skills sharp. Luckily, I am surrounded by people all day because of the large family I have, so it’s not too hard to find a catch partner.

Best memory from high school sports?

My best memory from high school sports is probably pitching in the first round playoff game against Cardinal Newman my sophomore year. We won in extras and I pitched 110 pitches in the first 7 innings. I mean, the numbers weren’t great but we got the job done. Being the starting pitcher in my first playoff game of my high school career was undoubtedly a fun experience, one I’ll never forget.

What will you miss most about sports?

I think the thing I am going to miss about high school sports, and baseball in particular, is the practices. In high school especially, you become really close with your teammates. As I’ve been looking back, the thing that I already miss the most is going out to the field every day after school with my teammates. All I want to do now is get back out on the field and chat it up with the team.

Summer plans:

I am not really sure yet about my summer plans, but I will probably play some travel ball and hopefully play with some of my teammates again.

Fall plans:

I am planning to attend Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo Business School and maybe play club ball.

Coach Jeremy Tayson says:

We leaned on Nolan very hard in his time here and he never backed down. It’s just who he is. A three-year varsity guy, he doesn’t miss workouts. He puts in extra time and cares about winning with his teammates. We will remember him as a ball player with his socks up, a competitive smile on his face and plenty of gas in the tank. He was our captain and was playing the part. In a bigger sense, Nolan is also the sixth of six brothers to play baseball at Justin-Siena. In that sense, this is the end of an era.

Contact Gus via phone at 707-304-9372 or email at gmorris@napanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustGusMorris.

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Sports Reporter

Gus Morris covers St. Helena and Calistoga sports for the Napa Valley Register. Before joining the Register in 2018, he covered collegiate sports for the student publication at the University of Oregon.

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