Meadowdale counting on junior class
Mavs hope to be in the playoff mix
Meadowdale's Nathan Ball practices his swing in the batting cage at Meadowdale High School. Ball likely will play second base and shortstop.
Meadowdale's Sam Thomas practices his swing in the batting cage.
Senior Sam Triece is one of the pitchers Meadowdale is relying on this season.
Meadowdale's Jon Bonne practices his swing.
A preseason coaches' poll pegged the Mavericks sixth in the new Western Conference 3A behind clear favorite Shorewood and a host of other teams, including district rival Mountlake Terrace, Glacier Peak and Shorecrest.
Meadowdale coach Bill Hummel understands why, as the Mavericks' roster is dominated by a largely unknown eight-member junior class. Meadowdale also doesn't really have a clear Division 1 prospect as in past years.
What the Mavericks do have are four standout seniors Hummel is relying on to guide the team.
Senior Sam Triece showed significant improvement during his junior season and should be one of the top pitchers in the league, according to Hummel. The 6-foot-2 righthander's velocity has improved from the mid-80s to the low 90s.
“He seems to be much more around the plate,” Hummel said. “He has a good change-up and a nice curveball.”
Meadowdale doesn't have much experience behind Triece, though junior Torin Dooley saw a lot of action last season. Juniors Matt Hirsch and Sam Herzer also pitched in 2010.
“Both have shown improvement,” Hummel said. “We're going to need a few other pitchers. We're looking for somebody else to step up.”
Meadowdale returns experience in the infield with senior Nathan Ball, who will play second base. Ball, the starting quarterback for the football team, is an all-around good athlete with speed, Hummel said. Ball also may see some time at shortstop.
Hummel expects senior Jon Boone to play a key role in the outfield and as one of the team's top hitters. Senior first baseman Sam Thomas didn't play his junior season due to an injury but is back healthy.
“We expect him to have a big year for us,” Hummel said.
Junior Tyler Ackerman likely will see time at shortstop. Ackerman primarily was a utility player, who caught and played in the infield last year.
“He's a good hitter,” Hummel added. “He finds a way to get on base.”
Junior Ethan Coffey and sophomore Brian Marty will share the catching duties to start out.
Though the lack of a Division 1 type of player might hurt the offense, Hummel expects Meadowdale will do just fine.
“We'll be very consistent at the plate,” he said. “We'll have quality at bats and put the ball in play. We have good speed, run the bases well and we'll put pressure on our opponents.”
Last season, Meadowdale had far too many strikeouts. Hummel has emphasized that the Mavericks must be more selective at the plate.
“It's really a matter of understanding your role at the plate and what your job is in certain situations and what pitches are good to swing at,” he said.
Ackerman will lead off and should give his teammates ample opportunity to drive in runs.
“He has a high on base percentage,” Hummel said.
Thomas and junior Chris Osboune will hit somewhere in the middle of the lineup.
“They're strong kids who are going to put up some big numbers for us,” Hummel said.
The schedule makers might have done the Mavericks a bit of a favor as they won't face league favorite Shorewood until the end of the season.
But Hummel noted that the rest of the league certainly will be a challenge. With Ferndale and Mount Vernon as possible district opponents, advancing to state won't be easy for any team.
“Our district tournament is going to be very hard to get out of,” Hummel said.
But despite Meadowdale's relative youth, Hummel likes the way the Mavericks are developing so far.
“We're going to be right in there,” he said.