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Spartan baseball team is thick with senior leaders | SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW

Will Houser reacts as Spencer Hogger slides home to score in Wednesday’s home opener against North Kitsap.  - Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review
Will Houser reacts as Spencer Hogger slides home to score in Wednesday’s home opener against North Kitsap.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review

A modest start may lead to something big.

At least, that’s the hope of this early season for the Bainbridge boys baseball team.

Though the Spartans faced two season-starting setbacks — a 6-0 loss to South Kitsap in the road opener and a 13-4 loss to North Kitsap Wednesday at home — optimism abounds for this year’s squad.

There are 10 seniors on the roster, and they’ll have to step up for those who were lost to graduation from last year’s team. But so will plenty of other players, according to the coaching staff.

“We lost quite a few, but we’ve got a good core of our team coming back,” said Varsity Coach David Smart. “We’ve got some good senior leadership.”

The Spartans also boast plenty of players, enough to field a junior varsity and C team this year.

“We’ve got three full teams. We’re really excited about having three teams, because it’s just good for a healthy program to have a freshman team and a good, strong JV team,” he explained.

Seniors on the team include Lincoln Beal, Nicholas Bierly, Cory Daniles, Matthew Hinton, Spencer Hogger, Will Houser, Paimon Jaberi, Andrew Miller, Tyler Riely and Nicholas Tucker.

Houser and Jack Post have already seen action on the mound for the Spartans.

The starting line-up, however, will remain in flux for the near future.

“As far as the Xs and Os and the lineups — we haven’t figured it out yet. We’re giving everybody a chance to try to earn a spot,” Smart said.

“We’ll keep this going as long as we can,” he added. “Right now, we’re trying to just breed a competitive nature and make sure that guys are working hard for what they get. Nothing’s going to be handed to them.”

Smart said he would rely on the leadership of his senior players to help set the tone for the season.

“Ideally, I’d love to have a lineup that we just pick,” he said, “we just roll it out there and go. But we’ve got younger kids pushing, we’ve got older kids, not necessarily trying to hang on to a spot, but definitely having to earn their spot again, even though they are upper classmen. It’s a good place to be in.”

“I’m really excited to see how our pitchers do,” he said. “We had an intersquad game on Saturday, guys threw well, but we definitely had things to work on.”

“We’re trying to build upon what we’ve got, every day, and get better,” he said.

Smart is entering his third year at the helm of the Spartan squad.

“I think the real difference between the first two years and this year has been the attitudes of the players,” he said. “I think we’ve really turned around the mentality of the program and I’m really excited about that. We no longer have to spend our time focused on who these kids are. These are good kids. It’s much more about what we’re doing on the field.”

The Spartans went 7-10 in league play last year, and fell just short of the playoffs.

Part of last year’s problem was the weather. A string of rained-out games left the Spartans playing nearly every day the last week of the season.

This year, O’Dea, a team with a tradition of making a deep run during the playoffs, and rival Seattle Prep remain big threats.

“Our expectations are to compete. If we do that, we’re going to win. We’ve got some good seniors, some good leadership there,” the coach said. “If these guys don’t get too far ahead of themselves and keep playing and stay within themselves, we’ll be fine. I’m really excited to see what they can do, and build on last year.”

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