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Federal Way looks like team to beat - again
By CASEY OLSON
The Federal Way baseball team has been the dominant program in Washington during the last two seasons. The Eagles won the Class 4A title in 2001 and finished second to Woodinville last season.
We have a lot of kids that expect to win, said coach Eric Fiedler.
Last year, Federal Way finished 22-3 and won the South Puget Sound League South division for the third year in a row.
But, the Eagles are going to have to do it this year without two of the most successful players in the schools history Travis Ishikawa and Shea McFeely. The two were drafted last year, Ishikawa by the San Francisco Giants and McFeely by the Cleveland Indians. Ishikawa is currently playing in the Giants organization and McFeely is attending Tacoma Community College with the thought of signing with a four-year university next season.
Other key losses from last years second-place team were pitcher/shortstop Kenny Yun (currently playing at TCC), catcher Jeff Krogman (now playing at Whitman University), outfielder Brandon Goff and outfielder Donnie Farris.
We are going to have a lot of new leadership this year, said Fiedler. That makes things a little different.
Fiedler will be counting on several seniors to carry on the Federal Way baseball tradition. Among those are all-leaguer Greg Washington (second base), Brett Davis (third base) and Andre Piper-Jordan (centerfield). Also back is junior outfielder Thomas Watts, who was second-team all league last year.
Key newcomers include junior pitcher/infielder Kyle Hanselman, senior shortstop Jeremy Day, junior catcher Peter Livingston and senior pitcher/infielder Terry Bishop.
Our (junior varsity) program has been very successful, Feidler said.
Fiedler looks to Curtis and Puyallup as the two teams to beat in the SPSL South this year.
They are most everybodys pick to win the league, he said. TJ and Decatur are also going to surprise a lot of people.
Decatur baseball coach Jeff Housman got a pretty good idea about what his team has to offer this spring during a weekend trip to the Tri-Cities. The Gators started the 2003 season with a pair of non-league victories over Franklin Pierce and Hanford Saturday.
Decatur pounded Franklin Pierce in the first game of a double header, 14-3 in five innings, and downed Hanford 5-1 in the night cap.
I felt really good about the weekend, said Housman. I will give our kids credit that was the first time we have been outside in a week. But it is still early and the SPSL teams will be a lot tougher that what we saw.
Housman has a solid group of seniors returning from last years 8-12 team. Back for the Gators are seniors Andrew Ristine (pitcher, infield), Matt Britt (outfield), Ryan Hendrickson (infield), Mike Esbenshade (outfield), Jason Kurle (first base, designated hitter) and Gavin Johnson (catcher, third base).
Newcomers to the varsity this season will be sophomores Jon Flood (pitcher, infield), Jay Walkup (pitcher, infield) and Tyler Pac (infield), juniors Kyle Tait (infield) and Justin Kollmann (pitcher) and senior outfielder Mike Torrey.
Ristine and Flood gave Housman some solid starting pitching over the weekend. Ristine picked up the victory against Franklin Pierce by throwing 4 1/3 innings and allowing no earned runs while walking only two. Cole was even more impressive against Hanford. The sophomore went the distance on the mound, allowing two hits, striking out seven and walking only one.
I think pitching is going to be our strength, Housman said. The guys are throwing strikes.
The Gators bats were also solid over the weekend. Against Franklin Pierce, Flood was 3-for-3 with three RBIs, Kurle finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs and Walkup was 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Esbenshade was the hitting hero against Hanford, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and a triple.
A weakness Housman sees is the defensive play of his infield, which is a problem that could easily be corrected with better weather.
Its tough to work on fielding grounders on a gym floor, said Housman.