by Jack Kintner
Blaine athletes make their mark
Jessica “Stretch” Summers (class of 2004) and Joey Paciorek (07) are the best athletes to come out of Blaine since Luke Ridnour (00) left to play under Ernie Kent at Oregon seven years ago last fall.
Ridnour’s still in the area, having been drafted by the Seattle Sonics where he started for several years, but has seen less playing time of late due to a combination of coaching changes and injuries. Plus, the team’s future in Seattle is uncertain as new absentee owners wrestle with the state legislature over funding for a new arena.
If one isn’t built, they’ve said, the team will move to the midwest, taking away the chance for local fans to watch Ridnour in action.
Summers was part of a Blaine team that finished fifth at the state tournament in 2004, and after graduation she went on to play at the University of Idaho (varsity). College ball, with a kind of coaching pressure on the athletes that bordered on desperation, was not as enjoyable for her as she’d hoped and she dropped off the team before finishing her eligibility.
The good news for Blaine fans is that Stretch has enrolled at Western Washington University in Bellingham, and after sitting out a mandatory year will play out her final year of eligibility as a senior on their 2008-2009 varsity under Carmen Dolfo, who will be nearing the end of her second decade as coach.
Last year the Vikings compiled a perfect 18-0 season record on their way to post-season play. Summers will be expected to take up some of the slack when this year’s probable MVP Mollie Stelmack graduates in the spring.
Paciorek was drafted last spring while still a senior at Blaine High School by the Milwaukee Brewers, who assigned him to their rookie league team in Tempe, Arizona. The year was one of learning third base and how to hit pitching that’s considerably faster than what he saw in high school. By all accounts he did well, compiling a respectable .288 batting average by hitting .385 against lefties and .253 against right handed pitchers.
He played in 40 of the 56 games last season, getting two home runs, three doubles and two triples. He struck out 38 times out of 121 at bats but had a fairly good .416 on-base percentage and five stolen bases.
All this was done on a team that gave him little support, finishing last in the nine team league with a record of 19-37.
The Seattle Mariner rookie team won last year’s Arizona League pennant with a record of 37 wins and 19 loses.
Paciorek showed some of his old Whatcom County League form in the last game of the season, breaking up a no-hitter by the Texas Rangers rookie team in the seventh with a single and stealing a base.
He got the only other hit for the Brewers in the next inning when, with his team trailing 2-0, he hit a two-out three run homer. The Brewers held in the next half inning to take the contest 3-2.
The schedule Paciorek adhered to for the 56-game season, four game days in a row followed by a day off, was made even more arduous by the intense southern Arizona heat, as high as 116 in the shade. He’ll return to Arizona and a winter assignment later this month.
“He won’t be home for another eight months,” said his mother, Joanne Swabuk, “but he may get assigned to a closer farm team, maybe Montana. That would be nice.”
Paciorek’s stats are available at milb.com by following the links to the Arizona Brewers.
For the week of January 3
Port Angeles 46, Blaine 3612/28
S. Whidbey 52, Blaine 3612/29
Blaine 68, University Prep 36
Blaine 203.5, Mountain View 185, Mt. Baker 168.5, Todd Beamer 144, Lake Washington 140, Mount Vernon 137, Sumner 129.5, All-Stars 120, Sultan 109.5, Klahowya 84.5, Lakewood 40, Juanita 33, Friday Harbor 15