Rich Warin isn’t one to rest on laurels.
So, don’t expect him to count on those 11 consecutive league championships, or the fuel of former state tournament appearances or that legacy of overcoming obstacles to carry the Friday Harbor baseball team to the promised land in 2015.
It’ll take hard work, attention to detail, stalwart performances from veteran players and quite likely the emergence of a future star or two to enable this year’s squad to achieve what so many others before them have done–a winning record, a league title and another deep run in post-season play.
“We have talent up the middle with (Gabe) Lawson behind the plate and Peter Holt in center field,” said Warin, now in his 21st year at the helm. “They’ll both pitch, along with Kai Herko (sophomore), and hopefully a few more will step up.”
The Wolverines fortunes may well rest on the “step up” factor, as they take the field long on potential but short on experience. They’ll be without five starters from last year’s squad, lost to graduation, including their leading pitcher and shortstop-second base combination, as well as half of the heart of the batting order.
Warin will be counting on Holt and Lawson, both seniors, as well as the team’s other returning veterans, like Herko, Brandin Allen and Eli Cooper-West, to carry the load in the season’s early stages. But they’ll need some help. Of 18 players that turned out for the team, more than half are freshmen or sophomores.
“We have a few young guys that are improving every day and, as a whole, the guys are working hard to improve and seem to be jelling as a team,” Warin said.
Still, with Warin and longtime assistant coach Steve Schramm calling the shots, the Wolverines have re-tooled on the fly before, and exceeded expectations. Back-ups and first-year players stepped up to play key roles on the team that a year ago clinched another league title, compiled a 15-6 won-loss record and fell one game shy of sealing a bid to the state 1A tournament.
This season, however, the Wolverines, like all other Friday Harbor athletic teams, will compete for a playoff appearance and in post-season play against fellow 2B division schools, like La Conner (a 2B state tournament team a year ago) rather than against their previous 1A foes, like Meridian, Nooksack Valley or Vashon.
The pre-season holes in the lineup and the road loom large for the Wolverines this year, with only six home appearances on an 18-game regular-season schedule (although two of the dates at Hartman Field are double-headers). So, mark your calendar and don’t miss a chance to catch them when you can.
– Scott Rasmussen