Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Royals look for fresh start after tough year

Lynnwood heads into 2011 with optimism

By David Pan
Enterprise Sports editor
The Lynnwood baseball team has nowhere to go but up.
Literally.
If adversity strengthens a team, then the 2011 Royals should be bulletproof.
Lynnwood suffered through one of its worst seasons last year, winning only one game out of 20 contests.
Needless to say, the year wasn’t exactly what then first-year coach Adam Villalobos hoped for when he took over as head coach. The Royals’ record was deceiving, according to Villalobos.
“We were definitely in a lot of games,” he said. “I’ve been told other coaches were shocked that we were 1-19.”
Lynnwood’s undoing, and an area in which Villalobos is looking for improvement, is avoiding big innings. Oftentimes it was just a little hiccup in one inning that led to the Royals’ downfall.
Villalobos expects his returning player to remember what happened last year and to work hard to avoid a repeat.
“We lost only about two starters from last year,” Villalobos said. “The kids are older. The kids are stronger. They’ve been working hard in the weight room all winter. We’ve improved tremendously from last year’s squad.”
Three players -- senior Jason Shaw, junior Jordan Silva and senior Colin Samuelson -- are in the mix for the No. 1 pitcher slot.
“I feel comfortable with all three of those guys,” Villalobos said. “Every one started last year. They all pitched plenty of innings. I haven’t figured out a rotation yet. We’re working on that.”
Though the three offer contrasting styles, they all have good control.
“They are strikethrowers,” Villalobos said. “I know what I’m going to get when they go out there.”
Junior Blake Lord is back at shortstop and leads an experienced infield.
“He’s going to make the plays,” Villalobos said. “His hitting has improved tremendously from last year.”
Senior Tyler Johnson will be behind the plate and brings solid defensive skills.
“He’ll definitely shut the running game down,” Villalobos said. “He looks good in practice. He’s worked hard in the offseason.”
Juniors Corey Hoerner and Curtis Goree bring speed and athleticism to the outfield.
“We definitely have a quick outfield,” Villalobos said.
Lynnwood, whihc doesn’t have much power, will be more of a gap-to-gap hitting team.
“We’re going to run a lot,” Villalobos added. “We’ve got guys who can run. When we get on, we’re going to used that to our advantage.”
While the Royals certainly appear to be a better team than they were last year, they are facing some stiff competition in the new Western Conference 3A. Shorewood is regarded as the clear favorite and other perennial playoff teams Lynnwood has to contend with include district rivals Meadowdale and Mountlake Terrace and other top teams, such as Glacier Peak and Shorecrest.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” Villalobos said.
Given last year’s struggles Villalobos is paying extra attention to Lynnwood’s preseason schedule, which includes games against Mariner, Monroe, Stanwood and Snohomish.
“We’ve got some good games,” Villalobos said. “I feel it’s going to be key to get off to a good start.”