It’s make or break time for South Whidbey baseball.
The Falcons will take the field Saturday against Overlake in the 1A District 1 tournament knowing a loss could mean the end of the season, while a win would be a berth to the class 1A state championships.
After beating University Prep 3-2 in the first round of the tournament May 7 and losing to Meridian in the semifinals, the returning state runner-ups are essentially in the same position as they were last year. Senior Josiah Colby doesn’t see it as something to linger on.
“It’s trippy, but I can’t focus too much on it,” Colby said. “The most important thing is ahead of us. That’s in the past, but we’ve got to make our own story this year.”
Colby has reason to be thinking in the moment. He had a near career-ending scare in the Falcons’ game against King’s April 27, when a high pitch broke his nose and his left optic bone. He was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett that afternoon.
Miraculously, Colby recovered in a week and played in the Falcons’ final regular season game against North Kitsap. Had the injury been worse, Colby said doctors told him he would have been benched for up to six weeks, which would have ended his season.
Colby didn’t miss a beat despite the scare. Falcon head coach Tom Fallon was impressed with Colby’s performance in the loss to Meridian, where he went 2-for-4 with one RBI. He said Colby’s passion on the field was evident.
“He felt like he had lost baseball for good and he’s living on borrowed time,” Fallon said. “He’s just really swinging it and playing great. He had a really good day.”
Fallon said tough pitching is the norm at this point of the season. Saturday will be no different.
Taking the mound for Overlake Saturday will be junior Ryan Long. Fallon said Long is committed to Division III Occidental College in Los Angeles.
“It seems like every pitcher we face is a top-level guy,” Fallon said.
Colby, who was teammates with Long on a select team, knows what to expect from the pitcher.
“He has three great pitches, but it’s easy to get in his head,” Colby said. “If you string pitches against him, good things will happen.”
Fallon said that while the team’s defense and pitching has been one of the team’s strong suits, their offense could be better. The answer, Colby said, could lie in the Falcons’ approach at the plate.
“We need to be looking at the first pitch we’re able to hit and hit it as hard as we possibly can and play more like backyard baseball,” Colby said.
The Falcons were also able to study Long and others while waiting to take the field against University Prep. They aren’t unbeatable, Fallon said.
“They played a game before our first and we looked at them a bit,” Fallon said. “Everybody’s got good pitching and good defense. I think any team can beat any team on a given day. We’re confident going in but we know they’re a good squad too.”
The Falcons are currently 13-9 overall, having finished fourth in the Cascade Conference at 10-7. They were second behind Cedar Park Christian in the league’s class 1A standings.
Statistically, the Falcons are better off than they were a year ago, which ultimately resulted in a second-place trophy. If South Whidbey wins Saturday, they’ll have a chance to capture the coveted state championship. For Colby, the opportunity is one he isn’t taking lightly.
“I really feel like I healed fast because of the team and the chemistry we have here,” Colby said. “I’m playing for these guys and for the four years I’ve been here with the team. I want to return that in full.”