Mavs focus on increasing offensive output

  • David Pan<br>Enterprise sports editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 12:01pm


The Meadowdale baseball team is making offense a top priority in 2007.

“Last year that was a real obvious weakness,” Mavericks head coach Bill Hummell said. “We had a hard time scoring runs.”

The increased emphasis on offense appears to be working as the Mavericks have put up 15 runs in their first three non-conference games.

“I like what I’m seeing so far,” Hummell said. “But we’re not where I want to be yet.”

Hummell is taking a different approach in practice with the focus on teaching better mechanics at the plate and a better offensive philosophy at the plate.

“When we struggled last year it was more the offense,” said senior co-captain/pitcher-shortstop Ricky Denham. “Our defense struggled at times, but our offensive execution wasn’t that good last year.”

Expect Meadowdale to be an aggressive team on the base paths as Hummell wants to take advantage of his players’ speed.

The goal is to “force the defense to make plays against us,” said senior co-captain/outfielder Mike Anderton. “We’re always thinking an extra base ahead and making the defense stop us.”

Added Hummell, “Extra bases mean extra runs.”

Unlike last year’s team, the 2007 squad has some good experience. Meadowdale only had to replace two seniors. While the Mavericks only have five seniors on the roster, the juniors and sophomores saw plenty of action last year.

“Last year we had a lot of young sophomores and freshmen starting on varsity and for them it was a big jump,” Denham said. “I think this year with having those guys back with just a year’s experience under their belts, it’s going to be a lot better for the team.”

Denham leads what should be a talented and deep pitching staff. The University of Washington recruit is one of the toughest competitors Hummell has ever coached.

In the Mavericks’ season opener, Denham pitched six innings, allowing one earned run as the Mavericks defeated Stanwood 6-3 on March 13. Though Denham didn’t have his best stuff, he still found a way to win.

“He just battled and battled and he got six really solid innings,” Hummell said. “His leadership is incredible.”

When he’s on, Denham has a great change-up and a solid sinker. He also throws some heat as his fastball is up in the 90 mph range, Hummell added.

Another standout pitcher is junior Matt Gorman, whose fastball also has been clocked at 90 mph. Gorman also plays basketball and as a result is getting a late start. He’s not quite in tip top shape but it won’t take long for him to be a force on the mound, Hummell said.

Depth on the pitching staff shouldn’t be a problem with junior Jake Haight, junior Teagan Dooley, sophomore C.J. Johnson, sophomore Roger O’Neill, and sophomore closer Chase Anselment.

“I think we have a really good pitching staff,” Denham said.

Meadowdale showed some tenacity on the offensive end in a 10-5 loss to Western Conference North Division rival Snohomish on March 17.

The Mavericks fell behind 5-0 but managed to claw their way back to tie the score at 5. Meadowdale pushed across the tying run in the bottom of the seventh.

“For us to be down 5-0 and figure out a way to tie it is pretty good,” Denham said.

Meadowdale played much better than in it did in its 14-4 loss to Lake Stevens on March 15, Denham said. The Mavericks struggled with errors and didn’t have much composure against the Vikings.

“We were a lot better in that sense,” Denham said. “They (Panthers) are a big huge 4A school, a solid program and we came and battled with them. I was happy with how we ended up.”

The Mavericks’ defense needs to be a little bit sharper based on the 10 errors in the first two games. Meadowdale had a much better outing against Snohomish, ending up with no errors.

Meadowdale, along with fellow 3A teams Shorecrest and Lynnwood, face an uphill battle against the 4A competition in the division. Defending champion Jackson and perennial playoff contender Edmonds-Woodway are just two of the tougher rivals.

But moving from 4A to 3A should help out the Mavericks in regards to the postseason.

“It gives us a great advantage. Making the playoffs seems like a real possibility,” Hummell said. “With our pitching, I think we can compete with anybody in our league.”

The key to Meadowdale’s success is scoring at least four or five runs a game, Hummell added.

“So far we’ve been able to do that,” he said. “Pitching and defense need to continue to be strong for us.”

Talk to us