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BASEBALL | New-look Wolves focus on setting standard
Forget the big picture.
New South Kitsap baseball coach Marcus Logue prefers to focus on details.
“The most important thing for these guys is to stay focused on each game and stay level-headed,” Logue said. “The boys know they’re capable of a lot. I told them you can think and believe a lot, but you’ve got to execute.”
Logue inherits a position similar to the one football coach Eric Canton took over last fall: a tradition-rich program that features stability. He is just the third coach to guide the Wolves in 38 years. Elton Goodwin led South to three state championships before he retired after the 2003 season and was succeeded by Jim Fairweather. The Wolves have not finished with a losing record since 1988.
There is no reason to think that will change this year, although Logue is reticent to make projections about how far South can advance. Most of that stems from his mentality. Logue, 27, who was the catcher on Port Townsend’s 2004 state-championship team, has copied the Redskins’ motto from that year: “It’s Now Time.” He said that means the Wolves’ focus should extend no further than Monday against Bainbridge.
“They’ve got to take care of things right now,” Logue said. “They have great attitudes and prepare the right way. I couldn’t be happy with the group we have right now.”
He said that starts with the senior class. Left-hander Kellen Traxel, who signed with the University of Washington, leads a deep pitching staff. Traxel’s 2012 season was disrupted March 9 when he was setting up a batting cage after rain forced South inside.
“One of the bars fell and hit me in the side of the head,” Traxel said last year. “It wasn’t very painful.”
But then he said “things started to get fuzzy.” Traxel immediately approached a trainer and was diagnosed with a concussion.
He said he missed a week of practices. But the fallout lasted much longer than that. During an outing on March 28 against Olympia at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey, Traxel was pulled after throwing 58 pitches in two innings. It was not until April 13, when he struck out eight batters to help the Wolves to a 5-1 win against Stadium that Traxel seemed back to normal.
“Kellen’s been working really hard in the offseason,” said Logue, noting that Traxel often has arrived at the school at 4:15 a.m. to get into the weight room before classes begin. “He’s been doing everything the coaching staff expects. He’s played a pivotal part in building support around the program. He’s the ideal type of senior you want who is a leader by example.”
He said Traxel likely will be joined in the starting rotation with classmate Michael Wood, whose versatility and consistency made him a favorite last year of pitching coach Nick Kenyon, who remains on Logue’s staff as an assistant, and Fairweather.
“Michael Wood has just been looking phenomenal,” Logue said. “He has great movement and control.”
Early spring in the Northwest often provides little consistency in the Northwest with rainouts and make-up games meaning weeks with as many as five contests. For that reason, Logue wants to develop plenty of depth on the mound. He feels his squad has the ability to make that happen behind a strong senior class. In addition to Traxel and Wood, right-handers Josh Johnston and Tom Simpson could pitch often.
Logue expects junior Logan Knowles to challenge for plenty of innings, as well.
“He probably will be one of the top pitchers we use,” he said. “He has great accuracy and command. He does a nice job of keeping the ball down and getting groundouts.”
Another junior, Conner Sharp, a submarine-style hurler, could see time along with Howard Mackie.
While South returns most of its talent on the mound, the offense suffered some significant losses via graduation. Three-year varsity starters, twins Alex and Vince Sablan, now are at Olympic College while first baseman Mike Nelson, a middle-of-the-order hitter since his sophomore year, is at Jamestown College in North Dakota. Alex Sablan was a catcher for the Wolves, while his brother played shortstop.
Logue does not seem concerned about how his lineup will perform, though. He said South features middle-of-the-order hitters in juniors Tyler Ludlow and Tyler Pinkerton, both of whom can catch and play first base, and senior second baseman/outfielder Cody Wolfe.
Versatility has been stressed as Logue looks to find at-bats for as many players as possible. Logue said he will not compromise defense to accomplish that. A pair of three-sport seniors, Bryce Broome and Tom Simpson, regularly will play outfield. Broome earned all-state honors as a defensive back for the Wolves during the fall and advanced to state in wrestling. He has not played high-school baseball until now.
“He’s just a phenomenal athlete,” Logue said. “A lot of people have said baseball is one of his best sports.”
Wolfe could play second base, where he is battling senior Alec Morrison, or outfield.
“He has just looked great,” Logue said. “He has been really focused and hit the ball really well.”
Senior Nic Stoner — another three-sport athlete — and junior Dylan Garcia also could vie for playing time in the outfield.
“We have a lot of speed in the outfield and all of them have phenomenal arms,” Logue said.
Senior Jesse Moore, who signed to play next season at Edmonds Community College, can play the outfield, but likely will be entrenched at third base. Logue lauded his strong handwork and arm at that position in addition to his hitting prowess.
Another senior, Kevin Whatley, will play shortstop. About the only unsettled position in the infield is at second base.
Ludlow and Pinkerton will battle classmate Tanner Paulson for time at backstop. Logue, who came up as a catcher, likes the Wolves’ depth and talent at the position.
“We’ve got a great group of juniors who I just love,” Logue said. “It’s a tough decision.”
He said he might alleviate any playing-time issues by rotating the trio at designated hitter.
Logue said he always will stress the importance of competition to his players, but competitiveness extends beyond practice. He wants his athletes to be active and engaged during the game.
“We’re definitely going to be aggressive on the base paths,” Logue said. “The most important thing is getting guys into scoring position because we want to score runs.”
Logue, who served as an equipment manager in 2006-07 under Washington State baseball coach Donnie Marbut, said he is grateful for the opportunity to guide his own program.
“There’s been a lot of people who have helped me get to where I am today,” he said. “I cannot thank them enough. This is exciting.”