PORT ORCHARD — With the graduation of a large senior class and the last links to the 2015 4A state championship team gone, it’s safe to say a new generation has taken over the South Kitsap baseball team.
Last season, the Wolves went 17-8, which included a 12-4 record in the tough 4A Puget Sound League, and averaged seven runs per game. The team qualified for the 4A state tournament, but lost their opening game, 3-0, to Jackson.
The Wolves will be a little younger this year, but they still have some veterans to lean on while the underclassmen get acclimated to playing against varsity competition.
“We’re definitely youthful, but we’re very energetic,” head coach Marcus Logue said before a recent practice. “From top to bottom, from varsity to C-team, we really like our guys and they work really hard.”
Leading the way are senior pitchers Jacob Duarte and Nathaniel Beers. Duarte, a southpaw, posted 2.98 ERA last season and struck out 43 batters in 42.1 innings and also batted .333.
Beers, a big right-hander, had a 2.62 ERA in 24 innings of work. Beers was also one of the team’s better hitters, slashing .308/.441/.461 with 13 RBI and will see time at first base when he’s not on the mound. Junior Tim Reidy also saw limited work last year and had a 1.79 ERA in 15.2 innings.
Blake Ballew, a junior, will take on the majority of the catching duties, occasionally spelled by Stratton Fazio, who will also see time at the corner infield spots.
Preston Moritz will play second base and a little bit of right field as needed, with middle infielders Rylen Bayne and Hunter McCloskey working in at shortstop and second base. In the outfield, Sam Canton will patrol center, flanked by players such as Jeriah Blake and Spencer Sieckowski.
Positional flexibility will be one of the strengths to this year’s roster as many of the players can line up at multiple positions. This will allow the coaching staff to move guys around the diamond to keep the hot bats in the lineup or strong defensive presences on the field.
“It’s nice having guys that play multiple positions,” Logue said. “We can move guys around and they’re comfortable with it.”
As far as chemistry is concerned, the team of mostly new faces has quickly come together. Stuck indoors late last week due to some lingering wintry precipitation, the gymnasium at South Kitsap was thundering with chatter and encouragement as the team went through some running and throwing drills.
“We all really know each other pretty well,” Beers said. “We’ve all played together for quite some time so we have a lot of camaraderie.”
It remains to be seen how the team jells on the field, but there is plenty of talent within this 46-player program and a trip back to the playoffs is certainly an attainable goal as long as the youngsters continue to improve. And there is reason to believe they will.
“Despite being young, they have a good outlook,” Logue said. “They’re willing to work hard and they’re really good at making adjustments. They don’t settle.”
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at mkrulish@sound publishing.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.