New players bring youth and strength to Blaine baseball

JSP_9440-2By Oliver Lazenby

After the Borderites baseball team’s first week of practice, head coach Larry Hoffman could tell a couple of differences between this year’s team and last year’s. Mainly, it’s younger and faster.

If Blaine can get its runners on base, the team could build on results from last year, when it had its best record in years. But that will take some work.

“We’re doing a lot of learning,” Hoffman said. “We have four or five guys who don’t have any experience, so it’s going to be interesting at times, but the younger guys are all good athletes and they’re going to find their way and hopefully contribute to some wins.”

Three of the varsity team’s 12 players are freshman. Four returning seniors lead the young team: Brendan Riddle, Josh Fakkema, Jon Starcer and Armando Moser-Hernandez. Last year, the team only had three seniors but a bigger core of sophomores and juniors, Hoffman said.

“We’re hoping for a lot out of our seniors,” Hoffman said. “If they can do what I know they’re capable of, then we can have a good year.”

Last season, Hoffman’s first as head coach, the team earned an 8–12 record. That’s still a losing record, but it was the team’s best season in several years. In fact, the Borderites won more conference games in 2015 than in the past three seasons combined.

Still, Hoffman aims to hold the team to a higher standard.

“As a coach, I look back at last year and think it’s great the kids won eight games but we certainly could have won 12,” He said. “That’s the mentality we’re trying to bring out here. These guys need to come out and expect to win 14 or 15 games.”

Aside from speed, another bright spot for the young team is its pitching strength. Four or five team members will likely pitch the majority of the league games, but 10 of the 12 players can pitch, Hoffman said.

“It’s a luxury to have so many who can throw,” Hoffman said.

More Blaine High School students turned out for baseball this year than last. Out of the 24 kids on the two teams, 10 are freshman. That may make things tough this year, but it bodes well for the future.

“We’re trying to build something up here and all the guys in the program are pretty dedicated to baseball,” Hoffman said. “I’m looking forward to this year but I also look forward to the future. There’s a chance for something really special to happen.”

The first game of the season is this Saturday, March 12 at home against Sedro-Woolley. It starts at 11 a.m. After that, the Borderites will hit the road for a 4 p.m. game on Tuesday, March 15 at Lynden and a 4:30 p.m. game against Nooksack Valley on Thursday, March 17.

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