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Spring is here and so is baseball season

By Steve Willits

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Baseball season is here and there is a buzz in the air. The Mariners just concluded a three game sweep over the Angels and Seattle fans suddenly are feeling optimistic that it might be a magical summer over at Safeco Field.

Baseball is a nice reminder that spring is here and that the chilly Pacific Northwest weather is almost a thing of the past, at least until next year. I hadn’t really started to feel the baseball fever until last week when I broadcasted a Terrace game and followed it up with a trip down to Arizona to watch the Mariners wrap up their spring training season.

On Tuesday, March 25, we broadcasted our first MTHS baseball game of the year on Sound Live Sports Network and the Hawks didn’t disappoint. Terrace scored five runs in the 1st inning and seven runs in the 4th inning on the way to a 13-3 victory in 5 innings over Edmonds-Woodway. Beating the Warriors has proven to be a tough task for many teams over the past couple of years as they were the 4A WesCo South Champions in 2012 and 2013. The Warriors might very well end up winning their division for a third year in a row, which would only make the Terrace dominating performance look that much better.

It was the first time that I was able to watch the Hawks play an entire game this season and I came away very impressed as all nine hitters reached base at least once. I was fortunate enough to be the play by play announcer for the Hawks last year so I wasn’t surprised to see some of last year’s varsity players doing well. Dominic DeMiero, Drew Serres, Jason Shevenko, Daniel Theis and Wyatt Allman were regulars in the starting line-up back in 2013 and all look to be better than ever. The rest of the starting line-up were players that I had either never watched play or only saw in limited action last season. Jaden Yackley, Michael Hunt, Elliott Nebel and Zayn Phillips all looked comfortable in their new starting varsity roles and give the Hawks a solid line-up from top to bottom.

The Hawks also got solid pitching against the Warriors from Jesse Prothero and Raiden Silva, which was a pleasant surprise to me since I didn’t know much about them as players. I knew coming into the season that the Hawks were deep at the pitcher position with DeMiero, Shevenko, Theis and Ben Reijonen all returning from the 2013 varsity season. Seeing Prothero and Silva hold a talented Warriors team to just three runs shows that the Hawks have enormous depth on the mound.

My good friend and fellow MTHS alum Andrew Watters has himself a strong looking baseball team to coach this year. I’m looking forward to broadcasting more of their games and seeing how successful they can be.

Later on in the week I traveled down to Arizona to visit family and to watch a couple of Mariners preseason Spring Training games.

Sitting outside in 80 degree temperatures and watching baseball in March is fantastic on so many levels. For a Seattleite, it was one of the first indicators for me that summer is not that far off. Just what was needed after having to endure the wettest March on record in Seattle history.

It was great to see the Mariners back out on the field again even though some of the players that I was cheering on will never wear a Mariners uniform at Safeco Field. The Mariners are restricted to 25 players on their roster at a time during the regular season, however about 50 guys play on the team down in Arizona. Some of those players that didn’t make the opening day roster will potentially improve their games to the point where they will be good enough in the future to make the team, however other players will never get that opportunity.

The thing that is interesting about a Spring Training game is that the Mariners starters usually play the first half of the game before the reserve players come in and play the final 4 or 5 innings. This means that by the end of the game the players in the Mariners uniforms are often guys that will not be on the roster when the team makes their way up to Seattle. What is interesting to me though is that we the fans still cheer for the players regardless of whether we know who they are and whether they will be official members of the team.

The first Mariners game that I attended last week was against the Colorado Rockies on Friday night. The Mariners hitters didn’t have one of their better games as they trailed 2-0 going into the 9th inning. Robinson Cano, Brad Miller, Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley were all out of the game by the time the Mariners were down to their final three outs. The Mariners final hopes rested on guys I had never heard of. John Buck led off the inning with a walk, John Hicks then got a base hit, Tyler Smith then hit a double that scored two runs and then Nate Tenbrink came up hit a game-winning single. The final score was Mariners 3 Rockies 2. A Mariners victory made possible by minor league players.

What I found interesting was that this was a game that didn’t count in the standings and the players that won the game were names that most of the fans didn’t know and yet we all treated this game as if it were a playoff game at Safeco Field. We cheered after each of them got on base and we celebrated when Tenbrink drove in the winning run. Mariners fans also exchanged “how about those Mariners” comments out in the parking lot with complete strangers. Should it have mattered that this wasn’t a regular season game and that it won’t affect the Mariners chances of making the playoffs? Not as far as the fans attending were concerned. Baseball has been absent in our lives all fall and winter. We were excited to see our Mariners again after a long off season and I don’t think anyone cared who was playing when the game ended. We just wanted to watch baseball again and celebrate our hometown team’s victory.

I’m a Hawks fan and I’m a Mariners fan. Watching both of them get victories last week was nice, but the real victory was having the chance to watch both teams play again. Spring has arrived and baseball is back. I can’t predict how much success either team will ultimately have this season but I know that I will enjoy having the chance to follow them. Last week was just the start of what should be a fun spring of baseball. Go Hawks and Go Mariners!

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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.
Spring is here and so is baseball season