Though the King’s Way Christian baseball program is only five years old, it has a golden past.
Thanks to players such as Bryce Dodge and Ty Mairs, the Knights’ future looks bright too.
The juniors were on the King’s Way team that reached the Class 1A championship game two years ago, one year after the Knights won the state title.
Though at 9-13 last season was a down year by King’s Way standards, it began the process of a young team learning how to play at a state-championship level.
And Dodge and Mairs were at the center of that effort. Both earned first-team all-league honors in the Trico League.
More importantly, both embraced the responsibility of being team leaders even though they were just sophomores.
“I think it takes someone with a lot of confidence, which they both have, to go in and be able to lead a team,” King’s Way coach Todd Pisarcyzk said.
For pitcher/first baseman Dodge and shortstop Mairs, their leadership took root two years ago. Then freshman, they watched how King’s Way stars Damon Casetta-Stubbs and Sam Lauderdale prepared, worked and focused when game day arrived.
Casetta-Stubbs is now a pitcher in the Seattle Mariners organization. Lauderdale pitches for Tacoma Community College after initially signing with Washington State.
“You always saw (Casetta-Stubbs) before and after games working on different arm-care situations,” Dodge said. “He just really was focused.”
Also, being on a state-caliber roster as freshmen gave both Mairs and Dodge confidence.
“There was always a lot of competition,” Mairs said. “It started during my freshmen year and then last year in the infield with Cole Sherertz.”
While Dodge and Mairs absorbed plenty of knowledge as freshmen, they put it into practice as sophomores.
“We were so young last year,” Pisarcyzk said. “We started six or seven sophomores each game. Last year, they got a lot more reps than they otherwise would have. That will help us this year.”
That improvement started to take root during last season. At one point, King’s Way was 3-14. But the Knights won their last five regular season games to finish third in the Trico League and reach the district playoffs.
“We grew a ton,” Dodge said. “Looking at last season, in the beginning we were a bit shaky. But you could see the growth starting to come into form.”