Sports

Baseball: South Kitsap roster features plenty of youth

SCHEDULE

Date Opponent Time

Saturday Kentridge Noon

Monday at Bellarmine Prep 4 p.m.

Wednesday at Stadium 3:45 p.m.

Friday Olympia 4 p.m.

March 27 at Bainbridge 1 p.m.

March 29 Shelton 4 p.m.

March 31 at Shelton 4 p.m.

April 3 at Timberline Noon

April 5 at Foss 4 p.m.

April 6 Foss 4 p.m.

April 12 at Gig Harbor 4 p.m.

April 14 Gig Harbor 4 p.m.

April 19 Lincoln 4 p.m.

April 21 at Lincoln 3:45 p.m.

April 23 Central Kitsap 4 p.m.

April 26 at Wilson 4 p.m.

April 28 Wilson 4 p.m.

April 30 at Mount Tahoma 4 p.m.

Coach: Jim Fairweather, seventh season.

Key returners: C/RHP Gordy Anderson, sr.; IF Mitch Cartwright, sr.; DH Swey Dean, sr.; OF Josh Fort, sr.; IF/RHP Ricky Johnson, sr.; RHP Riley Voshell, sr.

Key departures: OF/DH Brad Fairweather, graduated; 2B Ghryn Hobson, graduated; OF Charlie Hough, graduated; LHP/1B Scott McGallion, graduated; RHP Collin Monagle, graduated; SS Brady Steiger, graduated.

Top newcomers: IF Zach Mendiola, jr.; 1B/OF/LHP Zach Reyes, jr.; 2B Tanner Romo, jr.; C Alex Sablan, soph.; SS Vince Sablan, soph; OF D’Aundray Van Slyke, jr.

Coaches in multiple sports have talked about a small senior class.

It all is relative at one of the largest high schools in the state, but Jim Fairweather could have the least experienced squad in his seven years of guiding South Kitsap’s baseball program.

Fairweather used the word “tenuous” to describe even filling out a lineup card. That is because he only has a few players returning with significant varsity experience.

“There’s a lot of wide-open areas,” he said. “This is the toughest year I’ve ever had doing this.”

In addition to designated hitter Collin Monagle and shortstop Brady Steiger, who now play at Washington and Washington State, respectively, the Wolves graduated lineup stalwarts such as designated hitter Brad Fairweather, second baseman Ghryn Hobson, outfielder Charlie Hough and first baseman Scott McGallian. Those players helped South finish 15-6 and advance to the Class 4A state tournament for a second straight year.

While the Wolves entered Monday’s season opener against North Kitsap — a 12-2 loss — with a lineup with in flux, Fairweather at least knows senior Ricky Johnson will fill a spot in the middle of the batting order. Johnson had a .435 batting average in addition to a team-best .635 on-base percentage while playing first and third base last year. He also stole nine bases. Fairweather said Johnson could play both of those positions in addition to shortstop this year.

Senior Mitch Cartwright also returns after starting part-time last year. He had a .448 average in 29 at-bats in 2009. The rest of the infield likely will be filled with varsity newcomers. Fairweather said the right side of the infield could be manned by juniors Zach Mendiola, Zach Reyes and Tanner Romo. Sophomore Vince Sablan, a left-handed hitter, is expected to vie for playing time — and perhaps the starting job — at shortstop. The Sablans are the nephews of former South standout Boya Quichocho, who now coaches at Jamestown College in North Dakota.

“I think a lot of the new, young talent will produce a lot this year,” said Johnson, who serves as a captain along with classmate Gordy Anderson. “They seem pretty talented.”

Reyes, a left-handed hitter, also could see playing time in the outfield. Senior Josh Fort, who hit .474 in 19 at-bats in 2009, started toward the end of the year. Fairweather said junior D’Aundray Van Slyke hit “the ball really well in the preseason” and also projects as one of the team’s starting outfielders.

The catching position could be a little more solidified with Anderson, who hit .304 last year, returning. But Fairweather also views Anderson as the team’s No. 2 starter, which means Sablan’s twin brother, Alex, could see plenty of time behind the plate.

Monagle would have been the team’s No. 1 starting pitcher last season, but was limited to playing designated hitter after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder during the offseason. Senior Swey Dean could have been a starter, but he also underwent an offseason operation on his shoulder, and Fairweather said he might not pitch this year. But similar to Monagle, he will be the team’s designated hitter.

“That will hurt us because he’s a big part of our rotation,” Fairweather said.

Johnson likely will become the team’s top starter on a full-time basis after sharing the role with graduated left-hander Scott McGallian in 2009. The right-handed Johnson had a 3-1 record with a 2.44 ERA and had 19 strikeouts in the same amount of innings.

“As long as our pitching can get us there, I think we have a chance to go far,” Johnson said.

Reyes and classmate Jarrid Pickard also could factor in as left-handed options out of the bullpen. Senior right-hander Riley Voshell might be a bullpen mainstay if he is healthy. Fairweather said he battled an undisclosed illness during the preseason.

Because of the lack of seniors throughout the roster, Fairweather hopes some of the younger players will make an impression early in the season.

“I would like to see some juniors on the junior varsity step it up,” he said. “Make it so we can’t keep them there.”

Fairweather said several sophomores also could see playing time on varsity this year and told them not to worry about their age being a hindrance.

“It’s just a number — it’s a name,” Fairweather said. “You don’t have to act like one. Plenty of people have hot sophomores who play.”

He also added two coaches, Ben Hale and Marcus Logue, as assistants to join Nick Kenyon and Jay Powers. Fairweather said that is important with the younger roster this year.

Despite the Wolves’ inexperience, Fairweather will not discount any possibility, including a return to state.

“It’s definitely on the radar,” he said. “I would never sell a team short.”

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