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For love of the glove
by MICHAEL DASHIELL
One of the peculiarities of baseball is that it’s one of the only sports in which the defense possesses the ball.
If Sequim coach Dave Ditlefsen is correct in his assessment of his 2011 Sequim squad, Olympic League opponents are going to find playing the Wolves a frustrating task.
“(It’s) probably the best defensive team I’ve had,” said the sixth-year coach, assessing a squad chock full of juniors and seniors, including 10 returning varsity lettermen.
Leading the group is a trio of upper classmen who are seeing their fourth year of significant varsity playing time, after the Wolves went 8-8 in league play and got knocked out of districts in one game last spring.
Shortstop Isaac Yamamoto was an all-league first-teamer last spring, hitting .365, leading the team with 23 hits and chalking up a .494 on-base percentage.
Drew Rickerson, a hard-hitting outfielder and now the team’s top pitcher, bolsters the lineup after he hit .317 with five doubles and a team-high 13 steals in 2010, leading to an all-league honorable mention.
Battery mate Preston McFarlen brings a wealth of experience and plenty of hitting and defense to the catcher position. He led the team with a .383 average and 21 RBIs last spring.
Other solid bats in the lineup include Tyler Campbell, Weston Royall and Ryan Hueter. Royall hit .300 in 50 at-bats last season.
“It’s a pretty experienced crew,” Ditlefsen says. “I do think we’ll be able to score some runs (and we have) some team speed.”
But defense, Ditlefsen says, is where the Wolves really will shine. Around the horn, third baseman Ray Montelius, Yamamoto at short, Karsten Wake or Nick Ramirez at second base, and Hueter and Jake Hudson at first secure the infield, with McFarlen and Campbell at backstop keeping opposing runners at bay.
Rickerson, Royall, Tyler Forshaw and Anthony Ignagni patrol the outfield.
The Wolves lost a bevy of pitchers to graduation — stalwarts Alex Gillis, Matt and Mike Bereiter, and Jeremie Oliver among them — but do return Rickerson, Yamamoto and Campbell to the mound; Rickerson is the lone returning starter.
“Our senior class last year did most of our pitching (but) I don’t think we’ve dropped in the quality of pitching,” Ditlefsen says.
The Wolves’ defense looks to be tested in an Olympic League that sees some good 3A teams drop into Sequim’s 2A classification, particularly North Kitsap and Port Angeles.
“Top to bottom, the league is tough,” Ditlefsen says. “We’re going to have to compete day in and day out.”
With 13 upperclassmen (eight seniors, five juniors) on the team, the Wolves look to be in good hands this spring.
“It’s a great group of kids, fun to be around,” Ditlefsen says. “(They are) very baseball savvy; they have a high baseball IQ, a good understanding of what they need to do.”
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.