Sports

Bainbridge baseball team fields young lineup

Senior Mitch Main is one of three varsity returns for the Spartans. - Victoria Nguyen
Senior Mitch Main is one of three varsity returns for the Spartans.
— image credit: Victoria Nguyen

Despite the loss of 13 seniors from its second-place state championship squad, head baseball coach Jayson Gore doesn’t consider the upcoming season a rebuilding year.

“You never really know,” Gore said. “It depends on the league. It was so strong last year. If it’s like that two years in a row, we’re going to have our work cut out for us.”

The Spartans made their first state championship appearance last season, recording a 19-8 record.

“Last year was really special,” Gore said. “When those guys were freshmen we told them they were going to win a state championship. They totally bought in, and for four years they lived and breathed baseball and Bainbridge Island.”

The Spartans were led by a group of experienced seniors including Colin Feldtman, a first-team all-state pitcher and outfielder, who batted .421 last season.

“It’s going to be hard to replace him,” Gore said. “We’ve got a bunch of young talent coming in – very good players, but they’re learning the system.”

The team returns three varsity starters: seniors Mitch Main, Kevin McCormick and Kyle Schneider.

“They’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Gore said. “One of the things we want to do is understand that we’re young and we’re going to have some growing pains. By doing that we can take a lot of pressure off the younger kids and the older kids, too.”

The Spartans will have an entirely new pitching staff, with Main as the only pitcher with varsity experience. Main faced three batters as a junior.

“Mitch is a very, very good pitcher – very poised,” Gore said. “We can definitely fill the gap. We need him to play middle infield and shortstop as well.

“Connor Loudon is going to fill some big shoes as one of our starting pitchers,” Gore said. “Rion Ramirez is a junior who looks really good. We’re relying on a couple of juniors on the top end of our rotation.”

The depth of last year’s varsity squad has resulted in a talented group of players emerging from the junior varsity team.

“We are going to rely on a bunch of those guys,” Gore said. “This year’s JV is probably the best I’ve ever had. The talent’s there. We’re learning the system. We’ll just go up and throw the dust up and let it settle – see what happens.”

McCormick will start at catcher and Schneider will play center field.

“Even though we were the only three that were really on varsity last year, a lot of the guys got called up for a lot of the playoffs,” Schneider said. “So even though they didn’t play, they have some experience being around us. Hopefully they won’t be totally shell-shocked.”

Bainbridge’s tough Metro League schedule includes rematches with O’Dea – the reigning state champion – on April 20 and May 4.

“We’ve got to win one game at a time, one inning at a time, one at bat at a time – no expectations,” Main said. “Win every battle we can.”

The Spartans travel to Central Kitsap for their season opener at 4 p.m. today.

“It’s going to be an exciting year,” McCormick said. “Friday’s going to be our first big test, but I’m optimistic about it.

With only seven practices before today’s game, the senior leadership will be key.

“The most important thing is just to teach them to prepare,” McCormick said. “If you know the signs, you know what you’re supposed to be doing, then that’s going to make the games a lot easier. You have to practice the way you want to play in the games. And if they do that, we’re going to do some great things for this program.”

The senior captains

Mitch Main, P/SS: .333; 17 runs, 14 hits, 4 RBIs.

Kevin McCormick, C: .206; 5 runs, 7 hits

Kyle Schneider, CF: .310; 9 runs, 9 hits

“I think that nerves are going to be the biggest factor. We have got a lot of new guys coming in but we’ve been preparing hard. There’s a lot of positive attitudes going around.” - Mitch Main

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