The Everett High School baseball team dealt with plenty of obstacles regarding its home field over the past two seasons.
The Seagulls didn’t play a single game at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in 2017 after heavy rain left the then-grass field riddled with drainage issues in the outfield and unplayable. The following fall the Everett School District, Snohomish County and the Everett AquaSox minor-league baseball team came together in a joint venture to convert the stadium’s playing surface to artificial turf.
The field was originally scheduled to be finished in time for the Seagulls’ first practice in late February of 2018, but it was known that heavy rains could push that completion date back until mid-March. Then, another exceptionally wet winter made its way through the Pacific Northwest, ultimately pushing Everett’s first home contest on the newly-installed turf back to April 12.
It was a long wait, but the Seagulls’ patience paid off. And for the first time since 2016 the team was able to enter its season with one thing in mind — playing baseball.
“It brings a level of comfort to us,” Everett senior Tyler Bates said of having the home stadium back.
Not only has it brought Everett comfort, it’s given the Seagulls a chance to have a proper practice routine at a proper facility.
“Boy, the kids have taken advantage of it,” Everett coach Alex Barashkoff said. “Working on our bunt coverages, our first and thirds, all of our situational coverages. It’s just a beautiful facility.”
The team held practices at the neighboring football field in 2017 and most of 2018, laying down bases and measuring out the basepaths each day in order to simulate somewhat of a resemblance to a baseball diamond.
“It’s super nice just to have a field we can come onto every day at the same time,” Seagulls senior Nick Mardesich said. “Not having to wait for like two hours after school until a field is open.”
Not having to worry about those issues has allowed the team to put all its attention into its work on the field.
Bates said the Seagulls are focused on building team chemistry this season and setting the precedent for a strong team culture.
“Setting a culture is the biggest thing that (us seniors) wanna leave with,” Bates said. “Showing the younger guys what we can accomplish if we work hard every day — that’s huge.”
Along with setting that culture, Everett is looking to reach a small milestone — picking up a victory at districts.
“We’ve taken that step into districts the last couple years and haven’t been able to grind out a W,” Bates said. “and I think we can do that this year.”
Everett went one-and-out the past two seasons at districts after snapping a seven-year tournament drought in 2017. The Seagulls last victory in districts was in 2010.
Everett opened the 2019 season with a pair of victories that hint a solid first step towards its postseason goals, knocking off defending Wesco 4A champion Cascade and defending Wesco 3A/2A South champion Meadowdale. The victory over the rival Bruins was the program’s first since 2011.
The Seagulls’ schedule didn’t get any easier early on, though, as they matched up with two-time defending Wesco 3A North champions Arlington. Everett dropped three straight to the Eagles, who have won 30 straight games in league play.
“Starting off with Arlington, I love that because we get to see the best of the best,” Bates said.
After being tested with a tough opening to their schedule, the Seagulls begin a three-game series with Stanwood on Tuesday with a chance to test themselves against a team that’s finished one spot in front of them in Wesco 3A North each of the past two seasons.