Sports

BASEBALL | Wolves put last year in rearview mirror

South Kitsap senior first baseman Tyler Ludlow is among several returning hitters who figure to give the Wolves formidable power in the middle of the lineup. - Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo
South Kitsap senior first baseman Tyler Ludlow is among several returning hitters who figure to give the Wolves formidable power in the middle of the lineup.
— image credit: Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo

There were no dramatic scenes.

Second-year South Kitsap coach Marcus Logue simply wrote a message on the chalkboard that offered a reminder to anyone who might reflect on last year when the Wolves finished as the Class 4A state runner-up.

“Keep life simple,” Logue said. “Because all you’re going to do thinking about last year is overcomplicating things.”

That does not mean there are not parallels between the teams. The middle of the lineup — first baseman Tyler Ludlow, catcher Tyler Pinkerton, right fielder Tanner Paulson and third baseman Mac McCarty — provide the Wolves with power in the Nos. 3-6 spots in the order. All are seniors except for McCarty, a junior.

“We’ve just got to make sure our one and two [hitters] guys are getting on base so we can move them around,” said Logue, referring to infields Logan Knowles and Cooper Canton.

The Wolves’ offense prowess was on display when they scored 17 runs in their first two games. But the bats slowed March 19 when they lost 5-1 against Puyallup at Heritage Park.

“The velocity was a lot faster than what we’ve seen,” Logue said. “We were trying to be perfect and a little bit more selective when we just need to go after it.”

The game also provided some symmetry from last year. Before South lost 8-5 in the state championship game against Skyview, its previous setback occurred at districts. That was a 9-3 loss versus Puyallup at Kent Memorial.

“It’s disappointing to lose to them just because it would have been a good statement to get a win out of that game,” said Pinkerton, who plans to play next year at Everett Community College. “We learned a lot from it.”

Logue said that is the point behind scheduling difficult nonleague competition. Puyallup has advanced to state in each of the last six seasons and has played for a championship twice during that span.

“I would much rather play a team like this than one we’re going to beat 12-0,” Logue said. “We’re going to learn a lot more about ourselves, us as a team and as a coaching staff from a game like this. I want to play tough teams on the road because that’s where you’re going to be in the postseason, so you may as well get used to it.”

The parallels between the present team and last season seem to end with similar competition and the middle of the lineup, though. Outside of Paulson in right field, the outfield has a different look with junior Drew Dickey in the other corner and senior Conner Sharp in center. The middle infield also features some changes. With junior Hudson Kimple sidelined with an undisclosed injury, sophomore Hunter Riley has taken over at second base. Knowles and Canton will share duties at shortstop depending on which one is on the mound. Both also could see time at third base when McCarty is pitching.

South’s pitching staff features the biggest changes. The Wolves’ top two starters, Michael Wood and Josh Johnston, both graduated. In particular, the loss of Wood is difficult. He was named the 4A Narrows League’s co-pitcher of the year. Wood now pitches at Everett Community College.

Logue will use a variety of pitchers, including Canton, Knowles, McCarty and Sharp, to help fill that void.

“They may not throw as hard or get as many strikeouts, but I think they can be just as dominant of a group,” he said.

As for expectations, Logue was reticent to make predictions. His players share a similar philosophy.

“What happened last year happened last year,” Logue said. “We’ve just got to focus on this year.”

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