Sports

Baseball tradition should continue at Federal Way

By CASEY OLSON

Sports editor

The Federal Way baseball program has developed into the best in Washington.

The Eagles have played in the last three Class 4A state championship games under Eric Fiedler — winning in 2001 and placing second in 2002 and last year. And seem primed for another run at the title.

Fiedler returns several players with state tournament experience, including seniors Thomas Watts (centerfield), Kyle Henselman (pitcher/first base) and Peter Livingston (catcher). Watts moves over from right to centerfield, Henselman, a left-hander, is being courted by several Division I programs and Livingston is one of the better defensive catchers in the state.

“They are in remarkable shape,” Fiedler said. “We have a lot of workout-aholics on our team.”

The Eagles will also be counting on senior shortstop Matt Vlahovich and junior lefty Doug Lottes, who threw three scoreless innings during last year’s state championship game against South Kitsap.

Federal Way also got three solid transfers, who will see a lot of playing time. Pitcher Jon Flood and third baseman Tyler Pac came over from Decatur and Mitch Jump played at Jefferson last season.

Henselman, Lottes and Flood will see a bulk of the innings on the mound.

“Last year we didn’t know our pitching was going to be real strong,” Fiedler said. “And Brett Davis was as dominating as anybody in the league. This year we should be pretty solid.”

Curtis and Puyallup look like they are going to be vying for the top spot in the South Puget Sound League South Division along with Federal Way. But Fiedler says Decatur and Jefferson have a lot of talent on their rosters.

“TJ could be a force to be reckoned with. They can really swing it and Decatur has dominating pitching. There is a lot of talent in the city of Federal Way.”

Federal Way opens its SPSL South season Tuesday against Decatur.

Decatur

The Decatur Gators will have a familiar face patrolling the third-base coaching box this season. Steve Murphy, one of the better baseball players in the school’s history, takes over the Gator program from Jeff Housman. Murphy starred at Decatur before moving on to play at the University of Washington.

Murphy, who coached at Kilo Junior High before moving to Decatur, inherits a very inexperienced, but talented team.

“We are very, very, very young,” he said. “That bodes well for the future. We will be very competitive and surprise a lot of teams.”

Murphy will be counting on a pair of junior pitchers to keep the Gators in ballgames. Jay Walkup and Ross Humes come into the season with two of the better arms in the league.

“They both look solid,” Murphy said. “We are definitely excited about those two guys.”

Also returning from last year’s 7-9 team will be senior shortstop Kyle Tait, senior catcher Matt Fink and senior outfielder Warren Faber.

“We are excited about our mix of young, talented players and strong senior leadership,” Murphy said. “Overall we are a young team with quality potential.”

Jefferson

The Raiders return seven starters from a team that finished up 6-10 in the SPSL South a season ago — who happen to be all seniors.

“The time is now for TJ seniors,” said third-year coach Mike Church.

Back are pitchers James Partridge, Aaron Bronson and Kyle Nunley, shortstop Dusty Farkas, catcher Ryan Compton, centerfielder Nick Hardy and utility player Kyle Warnock.

“Our strengths are pitching and experience,” Church said.

Church will also be counting on three newcomers to fill in around the seven seniors — pitchers Erik Fitzgerald, Aaron Borth and infielder Steven Trenter.

The Raiders open up their SPSL South season Tuesday against Curtis at home.

Beamer

The Todd Beamer Titans might not win an SPSL South title this season, but the future looks bright at the first-year school. Beamer is fed by Illahee Middle School, which is one of the better baseball schools in the district.

But this season, coach Jerry Peterson will be counting on plenty of freshman and sophomores to compete in the rugged SPSL South.

“It is going to be interesting in the next three years,” said Federal Way coach Eric Fiedler. “Illahee is the cream of the crop. Peterson is going to be loaded. It is only going to be a matter of time before they are very good.”

Beamer will play on a brand new baseball field and will open their inaugural SPSL South season Tuesday at Rogers.

“We are excited for our first season,” Peterson said.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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