By David Pan Weekly Herald sports editor
Just how good the Meadowdale baseball team will be is yet to be determined.
But two things are known for sure.
The Mavericks return one of the more experienced squads in the Western Conference 3A and the players, as a group, just might be the most athletically gifted in the league.
Seven starters are back from a team that finished second in districts and advanced to the state tournament. Meadowdale’s veteran roster features nine seniors and seven juniors.
“This is really a very strong senior class for us,” said eighth-year head coach Bill Hummel. “They were a good group of athletes since they were freshmen. Nine seniors are the most seniors we’ve had in any one class.”
This year’s team also includes several multi-sports athletes: Tyler Ackerman (basketball), Ethan Coffey (football), Torin Dooley (basketball), Matt Hirsch (basketball), Grantland Over (basketball), Brian Marty (football), Tyler McGuire (football) and Ryan White (football).
“We really like our players to be multi-sports athletes,” Hummel said. “It’s something we really promote at our school. The head coaches see eye to eye. The senior class has a lot of good multi-sports athletes and a lot of athletes are baseball kids first.”
Dooley likely will step into the No. 1 pitching slot with the graduation of Sam Triece, who is now at Edmonds Community College.
The right-hander had a solid year on the basketball court and is ready to go, Hummel said.
Senior Sam Herzer also will be relied on heavily this season. Another right-hander, Herzer throws a good fastball, curveball and changeup.
“We’ll be counting on him for quality starts and innings,” Hummel said.
Senior Bill Sullivan is a newcomer to Meadowdale who moved from Thomas River, N.J. The left-handed pitcher throws hard and Hummel expects him to be a major contributor.
Meadowdale’s success, as with most teams, will depend on pitching.
“We have a lot of arms,” Hummel said. “I’m not sure if we’ve got the top tier pitcher that we’ve had in the past. That could certainly emerge.”
Whoever is on the mound will be backed up by a solid defense, led by shortstop Hirsch, third baseman Ackerman, and Over and White at second base. Junior Erik Siska and Riley Bykonen are competing for first base and Coffey and Marty will handle the catching duties.
The offense is led by senior outfielder Chris Osborne, the team’s top returning hitter. Senior Ackerman, who has been on varsity since his sophomore season, is another standout offensive threat, Hummel said.
“This is just a great group of seniors,” Hummel added. “They are good students and good citizens. They’ve shown a lot of leadership so far.”