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Baseball preview: Wolves look to end playoff drought
When every team in the Olympic League has an ace, it’s time to go deeper says Sequim baseball coach Dave Ditlefsen.
With senior Nick Johnston, the Wolves’ team MVP back on the mound (2-3, 2.17 ERA, 41 strikeouts in 2013) he’s got plenty of support this season from fellow lefties James Grubb and Tanner Rhodefer and right-handed pitchers Nigel Christian, Zach Rigg and Daniel Harker.
“It’s a deep league and most of our weeks are three-game weeks, so we’ve got get more out of our lineup,” Ditlefsen said.
The pitching rotation will vary with Johnston remaining No. 1, who Ditlefsen said is one of the best pitchers in the league. He also batted .364 last season and earned an Olympic All-League second-team nomination.
Grubb, a freshman, is expected to be worked into the lineup more with his pitching reaching 80-plus mph.
Ditlefsen expects Johnston to step up his leadership with fellow seniors Rigg and catcher Brett Wright who led the team in hitting with a .415 average, a .475 on-base percentage and eight stolen bases.
He earned an all-league honorable mention.
“(The three seniors) have been everything I’ve wanted them to be and continue to work hard,” Ditlefsen said.
To Sequim’s advantage, they’ve played a lot of baseball together coming up through the ranks.
Through the offseason, much of the varsity and JV squads were hitting in the batting cages three times a week.
Christian and Evan Hurn are two players that put a lot of time in, Ditlefsen said.
“(Johnston) has always put the time in and Dylan Lott is a baseball junkie,” he said. “I think we’re seeing a lot of growth from last year’s freshmen to sophomores, too. We’ve got some speed and our defense is pretty good (but) it’s how well they can adjust to varsity pitching. Form what I’ve seen, they can.”
Going into their first week of games, Ditlefsen said he expects the Wolves to improve on their 7-11 record last year.
“I wasn’t disappointed in that. That’s who we were,” he said. “I expect us to be in the top four competing for a playoff spot. We’re a very focused and hungry group.”