By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH — Before the season began, Snohomish head baseball coach Kim Hammons didn’t quite know what to expect with three of his returning varsity pitchers out with arm injuries.
But nearly halfway through the season the Panthers have responded by claiming first place in the 4A Wesco North. Casey Flitsch and Garret Stich, two of the pitchers who started the season injured, are on their way back and others with no previous varsity pitching experience have stepped up to help the Panthers to their impressive start.
“There is no question that when you have three of your varsity pitchers go down with arm injuries, two with broken arms, that it causes one to really look into your entire staff and find people that can come in and pitch at the varsity level and shut the door on people,” Hammons said. “At this particular point, we have pretty much pitched by committee and in doing that a lot of kids have had opportunities and they have done very well.”
Junior Tanner Arrington and sophomore Ben Dmochowsky have both pitched for Snohomish this season after having no previous varsity pitching experience. Hammons said senior Jordan Prokop and junior Thomas Pennington also have done a nice job in relief.
While pitching was the biggest concern at the start of the season, Hammons said the veterans on his team have helped the Panthers jump out to a 6-1 league record.
“They are mentally ready for wars,” Hammons said. “They have come out and they have played a solid seven innings every game. They’ve given us an opportunity to stay in games by playing good defense and our pitching staff has kept us close. And then our hitters have come through with clutch hits, timely hits that have given us a couple of victories.”
The baseball team isn’t the only spring sport finding success at Snohomish. The softball team and the boys soccer team are both off to undefeated starts. The soccer team defeated Mariner 2-1 last Wednesday to improve to 7-0-0 in league and 9-0-0 overall, and the softball team is 3-0 in league and 7-0 overall after defeating Lake Stevens last week and beating Glacier Peak on Monday night.
The soccer team lost eight starters from last year’s squad that fell to Bellarmine Prep in the first round of the state playoffs, but haven’t missed a beat in 2013.
“It’s really been a focus on team and not just individuals and they have really bought into it and it’s been fun,” boys soccer head coach Dan Pingrey said.
Wednesday’s victory over Mariner was Snohomish’s fourth game in six days — a busy stretch that exposed the Panthers to a variety of playing styles.
“For the (coaching) staff, that’s why we’re excited,” Pingrey said. “We’ve played very big, fast and strong teams. We’ve played a couple of very crafty teams. We played a team that sat back against us and we have had to manage all of those in the course of those four games.
“Mentally I have been impressed. And ultimately (being strong) mentally is what is going to get us a championship.”
The softball team has relied on its veteran players to jump out to its fast start. In the pitching circle, juniors Bailey Seek and Jennie Winston along with freshman Alyssa Simons, have helped the Panthers, and the hitting of juniors Katlyn Purvis and Trysten Melhart leads an offense that is averaging better than 11 runs per game.
Through seven games, Melhart has six triples. The next closest player in the league has two.
“Offensively, Trysten Melhart is on a tear like I have never seen,” head coach Lou Kennedy said. “Katlyn Purvis is driving the ball hard. Jennie Winston is driving the ball hard. Anna Pisac, she’s a monster out there right now, doubles and triples.”
With all cylinders firing so far, Kennedy has high hopes for his team.
“I would hate to think too far ahead, but this team is capable of anything,” he said. “I’ve never said that about one of my teams.”
The Panthers get a real test tonight when they put their undefeated record on the line against 4A North preseason favorite Arlington.
All three of the coaches said the teams are very supportive of each other and the cumulative success has been a good experience for the kids.
“It’s been kind of fun,” Pingrey said. “We’ve seen a lot of the baseball guys and the softball girls that stop by at our games because we usually play later after their practice or their games and vise-versa. Our guys have been checking out some of their games before they come down to the field. I think that’s all real positive.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.