by Meredith M. Griffith
“They’re really, really hungry and the future’s bright,” says third-year coach James Segault of this year’s Orcas Island High School baseball team, which graduated five seniors last year. “These guys are gonna be setting the tone for the next couple of years. It’s really fun to watch these guys dig in and work.”
The team kicked off the spring with preseason games, taking down 1-A school Mt. Baker (7-6) on March 9 and conceding to 3-A school Anacortes after a tough match on March 18.
“It was stiffer competition overall, but we were in it till the sixth” with the teams tied at 3-3, said Segault. “It was a really, really good learning experience for the guys, and showed us what we need to work on early on … because we’re young, we’re just trying to make sure we execute the basics and develop solid fundamentals so that ultimately we make fewer mistakes than the other guys.”
The 14 Viking players include just three juniors and one senior, with five sophomores and a freshman rounded out by four eighth-graders.
For the past few years, Orcas has petitioned Washington Interscholastic Activities Association each year to allow island eighth-graders to play on the high school team. Their added numbers make it possible for Orcas to field a team, but also provide invaluable playing experience.
“Our youth is really our strength,” explains Segault. “That tenure that some of our sophomores and juniors have, having played since they were in eighth grade, we have a leg up with how long guys have actually been in the program.” He said sometimes a young team can look “pretty small” when facing up against more seasoned veterans of 3-A schools – such as a recent pitcher who stood about six feet, six inches tall.
“He’s got a job to do; he’s trying to make the varsity squad. He means business,” said Segault. “But these are the guys we want to compete against because they’re going to make us a lot better down the stretch.”
Pitching for the Vikings this spring is sophomore Tomas Holmes, backed by juniors Jaydon Krisch and Daniel Keyes and senior Kupono Anuenue.
Segault’s strong emphasis on team spirit means there’s no titled team captain at present; rather, he’s watching for leadership traits to show themselves over time.
“Who shows up every day ready to go and ready to excite other guys to do the good thing? Who kind of galvanizes the crew?” he says. “We have to be able to hold one another accountable, work together to shoulder the same burdens and win and lose together.”
Segault adds, “A baseball field is a pretty special place. Fundamentals, and developing good cohesion on the team — that’s more or less what’s going to take us through, and it’s going to be a fun season. I’m super excited.”
Upcoming home games are doubleheaders against Concrete on Saturday, March 30, at 12:45 p.m. and 3 p.m., and Friday, April 5, against Friday Harbor at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.