Sports

Kitsap Wolf Pack taking a step up

Hoping to enhance its level of play and make its kids better ballplayers, the South Kitsap Wolf Pack is dumping its independent status.

Starting this season, the Wolf Pack will become part of the Kitsap Select Baseball Club and see its three teams compete in Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax Select leagues, giving the squad a whole new group of teams to compete against.

“We talked as a group and decided to come into the Mantle League this year, and a lot of that was to see better baseball,” said manager Mel Fingarson. “We wanted these kids to see what they’re really up against.”

The Wolf Pack will field three different teams this year — a 15U, 14U and 13U — with major changes at the top, as Jim Lubeck, who coached the 15U team last year, has left the dugout to help run the organization.

Taking over for Lubeck is Fingarson, who has been an assistant coach for the past couple of years.

“I had coached in Sandy Koufax a couple of years ago, and I'd been kind of bugging Jim that that was a higher level of baseball,” Fingarson said. “It will be a lot bigger challenge for us.”

Playing basically in a series of tournaments last year, the Wolf Pack will now be in an 18-team league that will comprise one side of a 36-team conference.

The upside, Fingarson said, is definite set games and schedules as opposed to conjuring up small tournaments when it could, and the quality of play his kids will face.

The 14U team will play Sandy Koufax ball in a league that has 26 teams in it while the 13U team will be put in a league consisting of 38 teams.

The Pack has had its share of success over the past two years, but everyone involved, including the kids, wanted to see some stiffer competition.

They will now get that with teams located in Silverdale, Gig Harbor, Tacoma and over to Puyallup and Federal Way. The season begins April 23 at home against the Kitsap Bulldogs and runs until the end of June.

The top eight teams in each league will advance to a division tournament at the end of the year and see a true champion crowned.

From there, many of the teams will venture out to play in other state, regional and national tournaments.

The Pack will also play in some weekend tournaments during that time as well as hosting their own.

But the bottom line, Fingarson said, was to get the kids the kind of competition that will help make them better ball players down the line.

“It will be very good for us,” Fingarson said. “I hope we are up to the challenge.”

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