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Boys target: home plate
For years, baseball coach Dave Guetlin commuted to Monroe High School to teach physical education and run the baseball team. Six years ago he began doing the same at South Whidbey and finds the atmosphere on and off the field to his liking.
Theres just something special about the kids on this island, Guetlin noted.
Guetlin has a unique way to deal with the challenge of field maintenance: We have player work parties assigned to keep the field in shape. It helps them assume a measure of ownership, reminding them and visiting teams this is a quality place. A place where serious baseball is played.
Guetlin was disappointed with last years 8-10 season, especially following the Falcons second place conference run in 2004.
How hard is the competition? Last year, eight games of 10 were lost by two or fewer runs.
Unfortunately, Guetlin lost a passel of seniors in June. Currently, pitcher Logan Hanna is the only returning senior, though Jacob Crosby is on board after a two-year absence.
Even so, there is a plethora of talent: Danny Parra at catcher, Lakota Holder, relief pitcher and first base, Joey Smith at shortstop and Nick Davis at second.
Baseball is the most competitive sport in any league, Guetlin said, noting that Archbishop Murphy and Granite Falls are likely to field teams that will be hard to beat.
The fact is, any team in our league has the capacity to beat anyone, even Cedarcrest, which has a younger squad this year, he said.
Guetlin, ably assisted by Tom Fallon and Frank Parra, will rank league teams in order of who they want to beat the most. He admitted being more nervous about those at the bottom.
I dont want us to take anything for granted, the coach said. Sometimes players operate at the lowest common denominator; thats how you get beat.
Guetlin hesitated making any firm predictions on the season.
I think we can be in the middle of the pack with a winning season, he said. If we get to playoffs, well adjust our goals.
Though he feels academics should always come first, the coach knows not every parent, or even teacher for that matter, believes in the value of sports. The lessons learned on the diamond sportsmanship, teamwork, time management, resiliency are invaluable and they will follow them all their lives, Guetlin said.
He noted that baseball is a game of failure, that not hitting the ball six or seven times of 10 is considered superstardom in the majors.
When you get knocked down, you get back up. One moment you drop a ball in the outfield, then are asked to hit the winning run as everyone in the park watches, he said.
You dont think that builds character?
At 11 a.m. Saturday, the boys host a district jamboree.