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Offense is name of Central Kitsaps game
By AARON MANAGHAN
Central Kitsap baseball coach Bill Baxter was encouraged by what he saw out of his team at the season-opening jamboree with Klahowya and Bremerton on Saturday.
While the unofficial three-inning contests dont count in the standings, Baxter was pleased with his teams 8-0 and 9-1 wins against the Knights and Eagles, respectively.
I thought we did a great job hitting the baseball today, Baxter said.
That was key, he added, as CK will need its bats to do most of the teams talking this season.
I think were gonna have to (score a lot), Baxter said. If you look through the lineup, were pretty young. Were gonna need to score runs. We dont have David Stilley to get 10 strikeouts for us, get us out of jams.
With the departures of both Stilley (now at Washington State University) and KJ McLean to graduation, CK will use a committee approach to its pitching staff, with six to eight players that could see mound time this season. That includes guys like Casey Bohlman, Glen Hewey, Nate Roberts and Drew Vettleson. Even lauded senior Caleb Brown might see an inning or two.
But after seeing his guys on the hill Saturday, Baxters not too worried about not having a standout ace.
They threw strikes, Baxter said of Saturdays performances. Thats 99 percent of high school baseball.
While the pitching was solid, its CKs bats that will carry the team. With hitters like Bohlman, Daniel Zylstra, Brown, Roberts, Cole Adams, Howard McDonald, Glen and Allen Hewey, Will Morris, Cameron Salley, Mike Crowley, Josh Winkler, Vettleson and California transplant Kyle Kunkel, Baxter said he could draw his starting lineup out of a hat and still end up with a competitive batting order.
I think today was a big boost for their confidence, he said. Were gonna battle. Weve got a great group of kids. They work hard.
Perhaps the biggest adjustment offensively this year for CK will be Browns rise in notoriety. This winter, Brown worked out for Major League Baseball scouts in anticipation of being drafted this year. With teams taking note of Brown, Baxter said hell need to adjust his approach at the plate accordingly.
Calebs gonna have to understand people are going to try to pitch around him a little bit, Baxter said. Itll come. With Casey Bohlman hitting behind him, having those guys, thatll help him.
Even more encouraging was that the Cougars put up nine runs on the Eagles, who Baxter said have a solid pitching staff even without Rusty Devitt, who did not pitch for Klahowya at the jamboree.
Honestly, I thought we saw decent pitching, Baxter said. Klahowya has some good guys. That was encouraging.
Another new addition to the team this year that could increase CKs offensive output is the addition of Joe Whitsett to the coaching staff. Whitsett, himself a graduate of CK, spent the last three years as Bremertons head coach.
Hes working with our hitters, Baxter said. I didnt even really think about that. He does a great job. And it frees me up to work a little more with the pitchers.
Brown isnt the only Cougar earning extra respect this season. After winning back-to-back Narrows League championships in 2006 and 2007, Baxter said the whole team needs to be prepared.
With us winning the league the last couple years, were gonna have a target on our backs, Baxter said. But I think were up to the challenge. Anything can happen.
The Narrows League will be tough once more, with Olympia joining CK at the top of the heap. The Bears feature some of the Narrows toughest pitching, including Adam Conley, whos already verbally committed to WSU.
We know our league is gonna be tough, Baxter said. Our division is pretty tough. Olympia is very good. Bellarmine is solid. North (Kitsap) is solid. Were gonna have to be at the top of our game at all times.
But league games arent the only ones that hold stock for CK. One non-league game CK is looking forward to is April 1, when the Cougars will reestablish their baseball rivalry with Olympic.
Its exciting for the kids, Baxter said. Its great to play in summer, but its not the same. Olys got a good team too. Itll be fun.
While Baxter said his team has high goals once more, no matter what, CK should have fun on the diamond this season.
Its a fun group to be around, Baxter said. Win, lose or draw, its gonna be a fun season because of the type of kids we have.
CK opened the season Monday with against Federal Way, but results were unavailable at press time. CK hosts Port Angeles at 3:30 p.m. today.