Journal of the San Juan Islands


Tough test awaits title team | Baseball

Journal of the San Juans Editor
March 21, 2014 · Updated 11:58 AM

Back row, from left; Casey Rothlisberger, Gabe Lawson, Otis Cooper-West, Amer Melic, Mitchell Coleman, Peter Holt, Brandin Allen, Kai Herko. Front row; Coach Rich Warin, Asst. Coach Steve Schramm, Austin Grimes, Elliot Garl, Bill Revercomb, Xander Crichton, Corbin Williams, Eli Cooper-West, Quin Warfel, Jesse Payne, Asst. Coach Brock Hauck, Isiah Hauck. Foreground, manager Austin Foster. / Journal photo / Scott Rasmussen

If there’s a lucky rabbit tucked away somewhere in the Wolverines collective baseball cap, now would be a perfect time to pull it out.

With only four seniors on the squad, including one first-year player, and with just five starters returning from a year ago, the Friday Harbor baseball team will start the 2014 season with a lot less experience than it has in the past. So, Coach Rich Warin and company could use a little luck and a bit of magic to help replicate the success of seasons past and for the Wolverines to retain their distinction as one of the region’s top Division 1A teams.

“I think we’ll be able to get it together as the season moves along,” said Warin, now in his 20th season at the helm. “But it could be a little rough for us at the start.”

With lefty Otis Cooper-West, a senior, and junior Gabe Lawson sharing pitching duties, the Wolverines have experience on the mound but little in the way of depth. The game-plan calls for veteran infielders Amer Melic (shortstop) and Casey Rothlisberger (second base) to each take a turn in the rotation early on. Senior Peter Holt, an all-league center fielder a year ago, will move behind the plate to inherit the catching duties with the loss of all-leaguer Gavin Guard to graduation.

Freshman Kai Herko, who made his team debut a year ago, will take over at first base. After that, the rest of the starting lineup remains a work in progress at the outset of the season.

Still, Warin and longtime assistant coach Steve Schramm, with help of assistant coach Brock Hauck, have a habitat of making obstacles disappear. The Wolverines claimed their 10th consecutive Northwest 1A/2B League title a year ago and finished the regular season at 15-3 overall. They won 3-of-5 post-season games but fell one victory shy of clinching yet another berth in the state 1A tournament in a narrow, sending-ending loss at Vashon.

Given the team’s track record, odds are good that the missing pieces will fall into place by mid-season. Still, a lucky break here and there couldn’t hurt the cause.


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