Here are five storylines to watch from the local prep baseball scene this spring:
1 Jackson, Mount Vernon lead the way in Wesco 4A. Monroe coach Eric Chartrand says Jackson has the talent to be “special” this season.
“Jackson coach (Kirk Nicholson) is returning a talented group and has multiple guys who can really throw. Carter Booth and Ben Steck are top offensive returning players. This team could be special,” Chartrand said. “(Mount Vernon is) returning nearly its entire pitching staff with Reilly Olmstead being the lead dog of that group. As far as an offensive stud, (MV’s) Dylan Cyr can flat-out hit. Lake Stevens is stacked with talent throughout. They have plenty of guys that can throw and big bat Conor Bardue in the middle of their line-up.”
Glacier Peak, which finished tied for the conference title and qualified for the Class 4A state tournament last season, graduated 18 seniors and will be rebuilding around a new core. Cascade, meanwhile, has its nucleus in place.
“We have 11 seniors returning, a very experienced group,” the Bruins’ new coach, David Benson, said. “We have great team defense, and the Gillis brothers (senior Brett and sophomore Brock) will be a great one-two punch on the mound.”
2 Arlington stands out in Wesco 3A North. The Eagles, who have advanced to the 3A state tournament quarterfinal round in each of the past two seasons, will be led by outfielder Gavin Rork— who’s committed to continue his career at Seattle University — catcher Jack Sheward and pitcher Owen Bishop.
“Gavin Rork is a complete player in the outfield and as a leadoff hitter,” Snohomish coach Nick Hammons said. “He makes all the plays in center field and can bunt, hit and has a lot of speed, so once he’s on the basepaths, he really sets the tone for their team.”
Marysville Pilchuck also should be in the mix near the top thanks in part to its ace pitcher, lefty Tyler DeVries.
3 Once again, Edmonds-Woodway and Shorewood could duel for the Wesco 3A South crown. But things could be a bit more bunched up near the top and middle of the standings, according to Mountlake Terrace coach Andrew Watters.
“I expect Wesco 3A South to be very competitive,” he said. “I think Shorewood and Edmonds-Woodway will be very good (as always). But Meadowdale, Shorecrest and Lynnwood will be tough. In the South, many really talented players graduated last year. With that said, I believe that all programs have talented groups coming up. It will be a very competitive division.”
Edmonds-Woodway, which advanced to the 3A state tournament semifinals last year, will be led by outfielders Jacob Kitchen and Ian Michael, and utility player Julian Kodama.
“Kodama (has the) ability to play any position on the field and produce offensively,” Hammons said. “We had such a hard time getting him out last year. He always stepped up in clutch situations.”
4 The Cascade Conference should be wide open. Cedar Park Christian advanced to the Class 1A state championship game last year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Eagles are favored to win the conference this season, according to coach Matt Stevens.
“With a considerable amount of graduating seniors this year, the league should be pretty open for the taking,” he said.
Cedar Park Christian does return one of the best players in the conference in outfielder George Reidy. Other players to keep an eye on include Archbishop Murphy’s Austin Hauck and Cedarcrest’s Aaron Davenport.
5 A highly regarded freshman could make a difference for Marysville Getchell. The Chargers finished the 2017 season with a 3-17 record, but are optimistic about this season due in part to the presence of freshman Malakhi Knight, who could have an immediate impact as a pitcher, shortstop and hitter.
“Knight is one of the top newcomers in Wesco 3A,” Hammons said. “This kid will be a name to remember in our league by his (ability) to throw hard on the mound and the rare combination of power and speed at the plate.”