When South Whidbey freshman Carson Wrightson stepped up to the plate, the weight of a victory or a loss wasn’t on his shoulders.
The Falcons led 7-0 over King’s in the fifth inning on Monday afternoon and were seeking their second consecutive shutout victory over the Knights this season. Nevertheless, Wrightson took aim and launched a shot over the center field barrier for a home run. It was the Falcons’ first homer this season.
The Falcons, coming off a short hiatus from team activities due to poor weather, won the game on a 10-run mercy rule in the sixth inning when senior Will Simms drove in sophomore Jon Bartel from third base on a groundout.
Wrightson, who batted 2-for-2 and also threw two strikeouts from the mound, is one of three freshmen who have consistently appeared in the Falcon lineup this season. While inexperienced on the varsity stage, the first-year players — Wrightson, Drew Fry and Ethan Petty — have proven to head coach Tom Fallon that they belong. Freshmen Alex Black, Dexter Jokinen and Aidyn Frederick have also had varsity at-bats this season.
“All of our young guys have been contributing,” Fallon said. “It bodes well for the future basically. That’s one of my goals, again, is to give these guys experience this year and take over when we lose our seven seniors. These guys are all doing a good job. There’s growing pains, obviously, but that’s to be expected with youth.”
South Whidbey improved to 4-6 overall and 3-5 in the Cascade Conference, while King’s dropped to 1-10 overall and 1-7 in league. The win helps solidify the Falcons’ hold on second place in the league’s class 1A division. Cedar Park Christian, another class 1A team, is currently first at 11-0 overall and 8-0 in league. Sultan and King’s both have only one win apiece this season.
Wrightson said his goals for the game were to maintain his fundamentals of making throws and routine plays. He didn’t know what to expect coming into the season as a freshman, but he said the team has meshed well together.
“We have really good team chemistry,” Wrightson said. “We just go out there and play to have fun. We’re like a family.”
Wrightson’s homer in the fifth wasn’t the only “first” of the day.
In the first inning, the Falcons were in jeopardy of yielding a run to the Knights with no outs, and runners on first and second. Antich, a shortstop, captured a Knights hit and threw it to Fry at second base for the first out. Fry then finished the double play by throwing to senior Maxfield Friedman at first.
“That was a big play in the first inning, actually,” Fallon said.
Simms pitched through three innings and yielded no runs, while freshmen Petty and Wrightson finished out the shutout in the final three innings.
The top batter of the day was Bartel, who went 3-for-4 with a double RBI in the sixth inning that helped seal the victory. Bartel, who also hit a triple in the second inning, is playing third base this season; he was a second baseman last year. Fallon has been pleased with Bartel’s adjustment to the new position.
“That’s a big step and I don’t usually like having younger guys play third base,” Fallon said. “But, with our youth, it’s just kind of the way it’s worked out.”
The Falcons played Cedarcrest after The Record’s deadline Tuesday afternoon. They host Sultan at 4 p.m. today, followed by another home game against Cedarcrest at 4 p.m. on Thursday.