Whidbey Examiner


Coupeville prep teams ready to spring into action

By JIM WALLER March 7, 2013 · 3:38 PM

Spring is in the air, and that means the atmosphere is filled with baseballs, shot puts and other sporting equipment that hatch each March. It’s time for the Coupeville High School spring season to get under way.

Baseball team looks to climb standings

They are not new, but they are improved.

The Coupeville High School baseball team returns almost its entire lineup from 2012 and expects to jump up the Cascade Conference standings.

After two years of using a handful of freshmen to fill out their varsity lineup, the inexperienced and physically immature Wolves understandably struggled through 2-16 and 3-16 seasons. Now with experience and off-season workouts,  Wolves are ready to muscle their way into the upper half of the league standings.

Coach Willie Smith said, “It doesn’t really matter to these guys that a lot of people may not expect us to win as far as league and playoffs are concerned, but I have a lot of confidence that we will be surpassing a lot of people’s expectations.”

He added, “Our goal is top three in our conference.”

Although the Wolves are still young, most have two years of varsity experience.

Infielder Drew Chan is the only senior. Also returning are juniors Jake Tumblin (catcher), Ben Etzell (infield/pitcher), Morgan Payne (infield), Wade Schaef (outfield/pitcher), Kurtis Smith (outfield) and Brian Norris (first base); and sophomores Aaron Curtin (infield/pitcher), Aaron Trumbull (infield/pitcher), Korbin Korzan (outfield/pitcher) and Josh Bayne (infield/pitcher).

Etzell hit .429 with five doubles last year; Tumblin batted .346 with 20 stolen bases; and Bayne hit .308.

Goals, along with finishing in the top three in the conference, are to surprise the league and to make a deep run into the playoffs, Willie Smith said.

Smith said, “These kids are hungry to win and have worked extremely hard in the off season getting prepared to do so. Between our junior class and lone senior, the leadership on this team will help us come through a lot of adversity.”

The team’s strengths, according to Smith, are its pitching, versatility, athleticism, defense up the middle and familiarity with each other.

“Our pitching is strong,” he said. In addition to his capable starters, Smith said, “We have a good stock of guys that can come in and pick up some innings in relief.”

Smith expects defending state champion Archbishop Murphy and Lakewood to be the top Cascade Conference contenders.

He said, “Murphy is awful tough, but we really feel we can beat anybody in the league if we are focused and play our game. These kids are ready to turn the corner and start to win again.”

The Wolves find out right away if they can compete with the preseason favorites, opening the season with a two-game series with Lakewood. First they travel to Lakewood Wednesday, March 13, and then host the Cougars at 4 p.m. Friday, March 15.

Softball team aims  to be among best

The Coupeville High School softball team is ready to move from competitive to contender.

Two years ago, the Wolves managed to win only one game. Last spring, Coupeville improved to 7-14 (6-12 in league) and lost a handful of close games.

Now the Wolves expect to challenge the Cascade Conference’s best teams.

Co-coaches David and Amy King said the growth, success and game experience gained last year is noticeable in their team’s attitude.

David King said, “The girls (came) out this year with a confidence level we didn’t start with last year. They know they can compete with the teams in our league.”

This new attitude is one of the team’s strengths, according to the Kings. Other positives are a strong pair of pitchers (McKayla Bailey and Maria Rockwell) and a balanced hitting attack led by Hailey Hammer and Madeline Roberts.

David King added, “We have a strong core group who have played softball for years, and a few girls who have played year-around for the past few years which will really help the strength of our team.

“We have a lot of speed…and from top to the bottom of our lineup we really don’t have many weaknesses.”

Concerns, the Kings said, are the lack of pitching experience behind Bailey and Rockwell and the tendency of their defense to second guess itself.

At the close of last season, then coach Jackie Calkins said, “Remember, we are young, so very young.”

The Wolves are still young but not inexperienced.

Catcher Bessie Walstad is the only returning senior letter winner; however, pitcher/shortstop Rockwell returns to Coupeville after lettering as a freshman.

Other letter winners include juniors Roberts (infield), Chevy Reyes (infield), Breeanna Messner (catcher/infield), Hailey Sherman (outfield) and Sydney Apparicio (infield); and sophomores Bailey (pitcher/outfield), Hammer (infield) and Madeline Strasburg (outfield).

Hammer was a second-team, all-league choice last spring, and Roberts and Bailey honorable mention.

The Kings said Lakewood, Coupeville’s first opponent, and Cedarcrest are the preseason favorites in a deep and talented league.

The Wolves go to Lakewood at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, for an early test. The first home game is at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, with South Whidbey.

Soccer team in midst of historic run

Buoyed by the most successful four-year run in school history, the 2013 Coupeville High School boys soccer team wants to stick its name in the record book.

Twice in the past four years the Wolves qualified for the state tournament, just missing last spring when they dropped a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Cedar Park Christian. Coupeville finished the year with a respectable 10-8 record even though it was the smallest and only 1A school in the rugged Cascade Conference.

This year, with a strong season class and the nucleus of last year’s team returning, Coupeville is ready to crash the state tournament again.

Coach Paul Mendes said one of the team’s goals is to return to state, adding , “If we advance to the quarterfinals of state, we will make history for the program.”

Heading the quest for state are returning lettermen seniors Luke Pelant (defender), Nathan Lamb (midfielder), Josh Wilsey (midfielder), Kole Kellison (goalkeeper) and Nathan Kircher (forward); juniors Sean Donley (forward / midfielder) and Brett Arnold (defender); and sophomore Jeremy Copenhaver (forward).

Mendes said,  “Our defense kept us in a lot of games last year. We graduated our sweeper Taylor Phillips, but Luke Pelant will provide the leadership in our defensive core. His reading of the game, poise, athleticism and passing skills will set a fine example for the newcomers. Returner Josh Wilsey will help shore up the defense and provide good distribution out of the back.”

Offensively, Mendes said, Lamb, Donley and Copenhaver are “all very fit and capable of scoring and setting each other up.” He added, “They have worked very hard to sharpen their game and are ready to go. They should be fun to watch. “

Key newcomers, according to Mendes, are freshmen Zane Bundy and Dawson d’Almeida and senior Jacob Lovell.

Bundy has looked sharp and is pushing for playing time, d’Almeida has good quickness and technique and Lovell has improved all aspects of his game, according to Mendes.


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