So much young talent on the Skyview baseball team. Almost too much. Not enough innings, in fact, to please every player.
That can be a good problem for a coach to have in any particular season. Or a headache.
The Skyview Storm are going to the Class 4A state baseball tournament for the first time in the program’s history. So, yeah, it turned into a great problem to have.
Skyview coach Eric Estes credits the seniors for paving the way, for welcoming the younger players, for turning that talent into a team.
The Storm started seven sophomores in their win-or-go-home state-berth-clinching victory last week. Yet, a case can be made that it was senior leadership that made it all possible.
“A lot of them were varsity ready at the beginning of the year,” senior outfielder David Garlington said. “The seniors stressed doing things consistently. We’ve just done the fundamentals more consistently than we have in the past.”
Senior Cole Buruse, an infielder, pretty much took charge of the rest of the infielders. In practice. In games. He was the leader.
“I’m pretty dedicated to this team,” Buruse said.
The Storm struggled early, with a 2-2 league mark. Then they hit their stride, finishing 10-2 in the 4A Greater St. Helens League to win the championship by two games. Including non-league games, Skyview won 11 in a row at one point.
Don’t tell anyone, but this was no surprise for Estes. Yes, he understood he had new starters just about everywhere on the field, but he also knew the caliber of those new starters.
“It’s talent. They’re really talented,” said Estes, who put a bit of pressure on his team by announcing early on that this group was not only good enough to win league, but good enough to go where no previous Skyview baseball team had gone.
“Let your ability do the talking,” Estes said. “We’ve got to be able to prove it. We’d never really proved it.”
The Storm did so Wednesday with a 7-2 win over Stadium of Tacoma, one day after getting shut out in the first round at bi-district. Seven sophomores — Austin Greene, Curtis Perrin, James Brooks, Brooks Hanson, Brian Valentine, Alec Chaney, and Jordan Freese — were in the starting lineup that day.
And Skyview’s top pitcher, Ian Hamilton, a junior, had an off day after pitching on Tuesday.
“We knew we had a lot of talent,” Garlington said. “It just came down to performing in crunch time.”
Nothing more crunch than an elimination game.
“We just kind of flushed that (Tuesday) game and got our confidence back,” Buruse said. “We realized we didn’t have to be as hyped up as we were before the game. We just played baseball and relaxed. Then we played like we did during the 11-game win streak.”
Brooks had a two-run single to put Skyview ahead in the fourth, and Greene threw six solid innings to pick up the win.
When it was over, none of the Storm cared how old they were; they just knew they were the first from the program to advance to state.
“It’s nice, but you don’t want to get too high yet,” Estes said. “You want to be excited, but you need to have controlled excitement.”
While it is clear to see that Skyview baseball has arrived, and has a future, Estes also wants to make sure the seniors enjoy this.
Erick Meyer, one of the leaders along with Garlington and Buruse, join Spencer Ramsey, Alex Hamilton, Connor Webb, and Jack Rhoades as Class of 2012 champions.
“It’s cool. For our last year, we get to see the program we’ve made,” Garlington said.
“It felt really good to claim that first berth ever for Skyview,” Buruse said.