Edmonds-Woodway senior Dylan Schlenger is The Herald’s All-Area Baseball Player of the Year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Edmonds-Woodway senior Dylan Schlenger is The Herald’s All-Area Baseball Player of the Year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The Herald’s Baseball Player of the Year: Dylan Schlenger

The Edmonds-Woodway senior posted a 10-0 record with an 0.61 ERA and helped the Warriors reach the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

Dylan Schlenger spent much of his high school baseball career waiting for his opportunity.

He had to endure the effects of the coronavirus pandemic during his freshman and sophomore years, which resulted in a canceled season in 2020 and a condensed six-week schedule 2021.

As a junior, the right-handed pitcher got his first taste of varsity playing time, but innings were difficult to come by with a pair of future NCAA Division-I hurlers holding down the top two spots in Edmonds-Woodway’s starting rotation.

“It was hard,” Schlenger said. “It was a lot of coming into this year questioning if I could do it.”

The only question after Schlenger’s senior season was whether or not he just put together the greatest single-season performance ever by an Edmonds-Woodway pitcher.

Schlenger was stingy as could be on the mound this spring, compiling a 0.61 ERA with 67 strikeouts over 68.2 innings pitched. He racked up 10 pitching wins and didn’t take a loss all season while accounting for half of the victories for a Warriors squad that won the Wesco 3A/2A South and Class 3A District 1 Tournament titles and reached the 3A state quarterfinals.

His efforts on the bump included six complete game shutouts and a run of 43 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.

And he came through with his bat in the postseason as well, going 6-for-14 with two doubles over five games during the district and state tournaments.

For his stellar senior season, Schlenger is The Herald’s 2023 Baseball Player of the Year.

“It was really incredible what he did,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Dan Somoza said. “Ten wins is unreal in a high school season. He just was consistent the whole entire year with his preparation and the way he pitched. It was pretty amazing to see.”

Edmonds-Woodway starting pitcher Dylan Schlenger pitches against Mountlake Terrace in the Class 3A District 1 tournament title game May 13 at Funko Field in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Edmonds-Woodway starting pitcher Dylan Schlenger pitches against Mountlake Terrace in the Class 3A District 1 tournament title game May 13 at Funko Field in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

With all three of the Warriors’ top pitchers in terms of innings pitched graduating a season ago, the team was left with massive holes to fill on the mound this season.

Schlenger was called upon to help fill the voids and quickly emerged as the staff’s unquestioned ace.

He started his season with a strong, five-inning performance, allowing only one run, against eventual 3A state champion Lincoln of Seattle and followed with five shutout innings against Archbishop Murphy.

He allowed a season-high three earned runs against Shorewood in his third start, but responded to his only somewhat rocky outing of the year by putting together a brilliant run of pitching dominance.

Schlenger didn’t allow a run over his next seven starts, which included six complete game shutouts. His only non-complete game during that span came when he pitched one inning during a game at T-Mobile Park when the Warriors had seven different pitchers throw an inning in an effort to let as many players as possible soak up the experience of taking the mound at the home ballpark of the Seattle Mariners.

Over the seven starts, Schlenger allowed just 20 hits, one extra-base hit and 13 walks with 41 strikeouts over 41 innings. He extended his scoreless streak to 43 innings before allowing a run in the third inning of the district title game against Mountlake Terrace.

“It’s crazy,” Somoza said. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Schlenger came up big in Edmonds-Woodway’s round-of-16 victory over Southridge at the state tournament as well. He allowed only one earned run over 6.2 innings and added a 2-for-3 performance at the plate with a double and an RBI.

“He not only pitched great but he had the biggest hits of the game for us too,” Somoza said. “He was a huge factor in us moving on in our state game to the quarterfinals. It just showed that his mentality in the biggest games was right where it should be. He didn’t let the pressure of the biggest games overwhelm him.”

With a fastball in the low-to-mid 80s, Schlenger didn’t feature the overpowering velocity that allows some high school pitchers to put together a dominant season. Instead, the senior relied on his command and attacked batters by filling up the strike zone and trying to induce weak contact.

“He can just grind out batters,” Somoza said.

When teams were able to get runners on base and put pressure on Schlenger, he never wavered. Part of that confidence came from the belief in the defense playing behind him.

“I would say we have the best defense in Wesco by far,” Schlenger said. “… I feel very safe on the mound knowing that if I can get (batters) to put a ball in play that’s not hit hard, that my defense will do the job for me.”

He also credited the lessons learned from watching former Edmonds-Woodway standouts Jacob Gabler and Gibby Marshall-Inman, who both posted sub-1.00 ERAs for the Warriors a season ago.

“I learned so much about their mentality and a lot about how to not be rattled on the mound,” Schlenger said. “When something wouldn’t go their way, they knew how to get out of a jam. Having a year to really watch them work every single game, it was super beneficial because, when I would get into a jam, I knew that nothing hurt and I could find a way to get out of it.”

Having that type of composure from a senior ace made a big impact on a young Warriors team that featured just four seniors and played a number of freshmen.

“I think your pitcher is your heartbeat of your team,” Somoza said. “When he goes out there, you know he’s going to compete for you, he’s going to root you on and he just cares about the team.”

Schlenger’s ability to effectively pitch to contact helped him go deep into games with regularity this season. He went at least five innings in every start, except the game at T-Mobile Park, and pitched six or more innings in his final six starts.

It led to a vast increase in workload at the varsity level, as the ace netted nearly 50 more varsity innings than last spring. That massive jump in innings may have seemed far-fetched for Schlenger last summer. He said he was dealing with tightness in his latissimus dorsi muscle, which kept him from being able to pitch comfortably from the arm slot that best compliments the movement of his three-pitch repertoire.

Joe Webster, Schlenger’s summer coach for Rush Baseball, suggested the right-hander take up another sport in the offseason to help strengthen his body. The sport Webster proposed was swimming, which Schlenger had never competed in before.

It turned out to be exactly what the ace needed to get himself ready for his senior baseball season.

“It kept me super loose and I felt very flexible, especially in my arms and in my legs,” Schlenger said. “I just felt stronger in all aspects. It was really interesting because I didn’t realize how beneficial it was.”

It wasn’t just the strength training that helped Schlenger. Joining the school’s swim team also taught him a lesson in resolve.

“I don’t think I’ve ever done anything as hard as senior year swim out of nowhere,” he said. “I’ve never been a swimmer in my life. There was a lot of tough times during swim season where I wanted to quit, and I think gritting through that really helped me through the baseball season.”

Schlenger said he made the decision before this season that his senior year of baseball would be his last. He’s planning to focus on his academics while studying economics at Penn State University.

“I was gonna try to end it on a high note in my high school season,” he said. “It ended up going really well and I’m very happy with ending my career how we did.”

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