Spring is the busiest time of year for Borderite athletics, with seven sports running at once. Organizing practices and games can be a challenge, especially when inevitable rainouts come into play. Winter sports teams making it to state tournaments doesn’t help matters either, but no one is complaining too much about that.
“There’s no rest, but that’s how it goes when you get into playoffs,” said athletic director Wayne Vezzetti. “The kids are young – they can handle it.”
Competitions have taken place already for all sports except softball, which will play its first game at Squalicum on Friday, March 21. Spring sports at Blaine include softball, baseball, track, boys soccer, girls tennis, girls golf and boys golf. This week we’ll look at how the baseball, girls tennis and track teams are shaping up. We’ll check in with the other sports next week.
Sean Linville enters his second year as head coach of the baseball team.
“This team is the definition of young,” he said. “Out of 23 players, 18 are freshmen and sophomores. It’s going to be a steep learning curve for a while, but the kids are working hard and they’re very coachable. By the end of the season I think this group is going to look like a different team.”
Linville will look to a few returning players to lead the team. Miles Peltier will be the only pitcher with varsity game experience.
“He knows how to compete on the mound and we’ll be leaning on him pretty heavily in the early part of the season,” Linville said.
Chris Dahl, the returning catcher, and Cody Gobbato, the returning shortstop, will also bring leadership to the team.
The Borderites lost their first game to South Whidbey 4–2 March 15, then won their St. Paddy’s Day game at Concrete 9–5.
For Linville, the game the Borderites lost was better played than the game they won. He explained that South Whidbey is a strong power in 1A, and Blaine had good plate appearances with eight hits. In the Concrete game, the Borderites gave their opponents many chances and struggled at the plate, but eventually got it together in the top of the eighth to score four runs and get the win.
Peltier, Gobbato, Rudy Nolasco and Jared Vogee have seen time on the mound so far. The Borderites have a deep but mostly inexperienced bullpen. Nine varsity players can pitch, and Linville said those players will see playing time in early games to see how they handle game situations. Having nine arms will come in handy when games pile up due to rain-outs, he added.
“This is a building year but we think these young players will be very good down the road. They’ll be thrown into the fire and they’ll make mistakes, but if they can remain mentally tough they’ll come out on the other side as solid, experienced baseball players.”
Head coach John Freal said the team is relatively inexperienced with only a few returning varsity players, but the leading two singles and the leading doubles team have the potential to win most of their matches this season. John Freal retired from teaching mathematics at Blaine last year but stayed on as the tennis coach.
Senior Alex Henderson is the team’s number one single this year. She played doubles last year with Emily Grayston. Saskia Dolk, a returning junior, fills the number two spot for singles.
The girls tennis team saw their first action at home on March 18. They faced Anacortes and lost 6–1. Dolk won her match 6–4, 7–6.
Juniors Mandy Hayes and Emily Roe make up the number one doubles team. Both played on the state-trophy-winning girls basketball team this winter. Hayes injured her ankle in the state tournament, and will not be able to play tennis until at least after spring break, Freal said.
“All the other players were junior varsity last year,” Freal said. “We’ll see how they do.”
The next varsity tennis meet is Thursday, March 20 at Sehome. Matches begin at 3:30 p.m.
Head coach Cary Bacon said the track team this year is large, with 55 athletes, but young overall.
“We’re unsure of how we’re going to match up until we get some competition in,” Bacon said. “We have several returning people who should have good seasons.”
Olivia Adams is the returning 1A state champion in the pole vault. Adams along with thrower Elle Moore and pole-vaulter Mackenna Magner will have high potential in girls field events.
Jon Fakkema and Adam McShane look promising in the boys throwing events. Kieya Villars should have a strong year in the 300-meter hurdles and sprinting events, while Hillary Kiele could do big things in the 800. Scott Fortune, a triple-jumper and hurdler, and Stephen Craft, a long-jumper, bring experience to the boys track events.
As for the athletes who are trying out the sport for the first time this year, Bacon said, “there are several who look promising, but it’s too early to tell. It’s going to be a learning year for a lot of them.”
The track team competed at home March 19. Check our Facebook page for an update.