At the beginning of the Little League season, it looked like the Bainbridge Island senior baseball team wasn’t going to get a chance to play.
With just six kids committed to the team, coach Larry Goade had to inform them that, due to not having enough players, there wouldn’t be a season.
But with the help of some parents recruiting athletes from around the island, including several who had never played organized baseball before, the Bainbridge seniors not only had a successful season, they were able to participate in the District 2 tournament.
The BI Little League seniors ended up going 15-2 and won one of three games at districts. Not bad for a group of kids who were thrown together at the last minute.
Practices were held five days a week for about 90 minutes; they were kept shorter to allow some of the newer players to attend practices who might have other sports. Practices typically had anywhere between six and nine kids in the beginning of the year, but by the end the whole team was there every day. Goade said kids who had been playing soccer for much of their life began skipping those practices to play baseball.
“We’ve had boys find a new love for baseball,” Goade said, “and we had boys find their ability to be amazing leaders at baseball. They each learned from each other.”
Goade was hoping the team would be competitive, but Bainbridge defeated the South Kitsap West seniors 15-13 and 12-11 in their first two games. They also swept teams from Key Peninsula and North Mason and took two out of three against North Kitsap.
Among the highlights was a game against North Mason Little League, in which Jack Grant his a 320-foot grand slam, and pitchers Ben Hobbs, Owen Bernstein and AJ Stevens combined to throw a no-hitter.
The coaching staff also got a little creative during the season. In the team’s last home game, the coaches asked all of the players which positions they would like to play and sent them out onto the field. Bainbridge used seven different pitchers in that game, and no player was at one position for more than two innings.
At districts they beat Gig Harbor 15-5 before falling to the South Kitsap Western/Key Peninsula/South Kitsap Southern All-Star team.
Goade, who has been coaching since 2009, said it was his favorite team and the most unique because he had club players alongside boys with no experience.
“Among the older boys, I didn’t have anyone with that attitude of, ‘I’m better than everyone else’,” Goade said. “My best player was my hardest worker, and the older boys were calm and easy with the younger guys.”