All the building blocks are in Sequim. Problem is, they're building fast across the rest of the Olympic League, too.
Sequim coach Dave Ditlefsen sees the return of the majority of his varsity players from 2008 after graduating just three seniors.
With first-team all-league first baseman Spencer Middleton (.339 batting average, two home runs, 13 RBIs in 2008), all-league honorable mention outfielder Drew Rickerson (.390 batting average, .634 slugging, 11 RBIs), Reed Omdal (.317 batting average, 13 RBIs) and team captain Jason Baker (.250 batting average, four doubles) in the heart of the order, the Wolves have plenty of bats to knock in runs.
Team speed is also a strength, Ditlefsen says, with speedsters Alex Gillis (12 steals in 2008), Isaac Yamamoto and Anthony Washington setting the table at the front of the order.
Pitching, as always, will be the key. Gillis (3-3 with 32 strikeouts in 25 innings) leads the staff with Middleton (3-0, 3.10 ERA), Rickerson, Washington, Kris Goss, Jeremie Oliver, Reed Omdal and Matt Bereiter battling for innings.
The growth of Sequim's younger players helps offset the losses of pitcher/slugger Max Royall and all-league catcher Ben Grubb.
But if that sounds like a recipe for success, consider that plenty of other Olympic League teams are cooking up hungry batting and pitching rosters as well. Ditlefsen says Olympic is the team to beat, with several returning starters and North Kitsap is a perennial powerhouse. Beyond that in the 3A division, Port Angeles has reloaded and should be a tough match-up.
The 2A teams are all very solid as well, Ditlefsen notes, with Kingston and Klahowya returning several key players.
The top six all-league pitchers from last year all are returning this year on various teams.
"The league in general is very good as last year most teams (including us) were young," Ditlefsen says.
The Wolves have been to the state playoffs five times but never placed, compiling a 2-5 mark. The last time Sequim earned a ticket to the state tourney was in 1997, when they lost 4-2 to Lake Stevens in the 3A classification.
Wolves drop two in jamboree
Sequim lost a pair of one-run games in their preseason jamboree at home March 14.
In the opener, Sequim fell to Chief Sealth, a 3A squad from
Seattle. The Wolves' Drew Rickerson pitched two innings and gave up one run. Travis Decker hit an RBI double, Spencer Middleton knocked in a run with a single, and Rickerson walked twice, stole two bases and scored two runs. "We let a 4-1 lead slip away in the last (third) inning with some shaky defense," Ditlefsen said.
In the second game, the Wolves trailed Federal Way, a 4A school, 3-0 in the third inning before rallying for three runs to tie it. Federal Way came away with a 4-3 win, though. The Wolves got their offense from a Matt Rief single, a Preston McFarlen single and two-RBI hit by Middleton.
"Overall, I was pleased with how we hit the ball," Ditlefsen said. "We should get some help on the mound and in the field when we get some starter back from illness and basketball."
Sequim High Wolves baseball
Head coach: Dave Ditlefsen
Assistant coach: Kevin Royall
Other coaches: Leonard Gann, Joe Ignagni (junior varsity); Bill McFarlen, Paul Pemberton (C-team)
2008 record: 9-7 in Olympic League, 11-10 overall (1-2 at district playoffs)
Returning players: Jason Baker OF, sr.), Matt Bereiter (1B/P, jr.), Travis Decker (OF, jr.), Alex Gillis (OF/P, jr.), Spencer Middleton (1B/P, sr.), Jeremie Oliver (3B/P, jr.), Ben Omdal (C, sr.), Reed Omdal (SS/P, sr.), Drew Rickerson (OF/P, so.), Matt Rief (SS/2B, jr.), Isaac Yamamoto (C/2B, so.)
Newcomers: Matt Holloway (3B, sr.), Anthony Washington (OF/P, jr.), Kris Goss (P/2B, jr.), Preston McFarlen (C/1B, so.)
Outlook: Speed, a blend of veterans and youngsters and plenty of experience: this Wolves team looks well prepared for another strong season. The Wolves look to run early and often. With a fast top of the order, good bats in the middle and the southpaw Gillis leading a strong but young stable of pitchers, look for Sequim to battle for a top spot in the Olympic League.
Reach Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.