2013 High School Baseball Preview

// Programs look to ride experience, build youth

The annual battle as to when the weather will allow for outdoor sports is on once again. But local baseball squads are hard at work, with some having already begun their seasons. We take an early look at the Tacoma schools in our high school baseball preview.


A new era has begun for the Tigers, as eight-year coach Chuck Peterson decided to retire during the offseason and new coach Barry Fretwell takes over the reins. Fretwell will assume his first varsity head coaching job after stops at both O’Dea High School and Pacific Lutheran University.

When the Tigers take the field, the cupboard will not be bare. Fretwell can expect good production from senior first baseman and pitcher Jake Vieth, who will provide much of the power for the Tigers. Other contributors should include junior second baseman Brannon Ronia and catcher Matt Gunn. Right-hander Ryder Destunder will join Vieth in the rotation, as Destunder’s offspeed pitches should complement Veith’s hard fastball nicely.

By Steve Mullen


Bellarmine coach Rick Barnhart has seen it all before in his 29 years as the Lions’ coach, and has a nice balance of both pitching and offense this year. The Lions are led by junior center fielder and leadoff hitter Brandon Thompson, who sported a .388 batting average last year. Senior third baseman George Foley, who hit .383 last season, combines with right fielder and pitcher Harry Stenberg and catcher Michael Ota to give Bellarmine plenty of offense.

The Lions will not be without quality pitching either, as Stenberg and senior left-hander Marcus Lane will give the Lions two good front-line starters. Another name to keep an early eye on is senior shortstop Andrew Patubo, who has given up his final year of soccer eligibility and has turned heads early both at the plate and in the field.

By Steve Mullen


Entering the upcoming season, second-year Rams head coach Doug Rupe has much to look forward to. “If we play defense, we should be able to compete,” he said.

The Rams will have one of the best pitching rotations around with junior right-handers Brady O’Keefe, Jared Horner, and Evan Stout. Offensively, Wilson should get production from promising freshman first baseman Noah Hill. “He should give us great production in the middle of the lineup,” Rupe said. “That’s great for a ninth grader.”

Other major cogs will be the catcher Nate Sandoval – the Rams’ lone senior – and speedy center fielder Robbie Rhoads, who is strong defensively.

By Steve Mullen


The Falcons enter the 2013 season wondering who will fill the large shoes of pitcher Jayce Guild and catcher Billy Barker. Early candidates on the mound include juniors Omar Morris, Marcus Ransom, and Ryan Phillips – all right-handers who coach Roy Young hopes will carry the load for the Falcons. “It will be tough to replace Jayce,” Young said, “but this should be a good group who can keep us in ball games throughout the season.”

The Falcons should be in pretty good shape offensively with Morris, Phillips and shortstop Mike McCoy hitting in the middle of the order. If all the pieces come together for the Falcons, they could be an interesting team to watch in the 3A ranks.

By Steve Mullen


The Thunderbirds have a good number of key players returning, and will be boosted by the addition of senior infielder Drake Jones, a talented transfer from Chicago with a good bat.

A solid junior class is led by shortstop Kasey Kenyon and third baseman Kyle Couture, while second baseman Garret Granvold and outfielder Kyle Bailey will also be counted on.

Granvold and Couture will lead the Thunderbirds’ pitching staff, while Bailey and Jones will also see time on the mound.

Head coach Victor Rodriguez hopes a maturing roster continues to help the team improve, even if a low number of players presents a challenge. “There’s not much depth, but we’ve got some talent,” he said. “It’s not an excuse. We’re just going to go out and play hard.”

By Jeremy Helling


Looking to continue to rebuild his program, second-year head coach Ron Gee is optimistic about his roster that features 10 returning players.

Leading the way is four-year starter Austin Pizarro, who should contribute at third and first base while also seeing time on the mound. Junior outfielders Aiden Covington and Zach Bennett also return to boost the offense. Gee is also excited about sophomore second baseman Collin Ford – a Puyallup transfer – and freshman catcher Xavier Baines and freshman shortstop Mark Jones.

Interest is quickly growing in the Abes’ program, as they will field a JV team for the first time in a number of years. “The attitude has been outstanding, guys playing hard,” Gee said. “They’re buying into what we’re trying to do here to get it turned around.”

By Jeremy Helling


The Crusaders will feature a solid core of seniors off a squad that advanced to the district playoffs last year. Leading the offense will be power-hitting senior first baseman Dalton Wintersole, who can simply crush the ball.

Senior shortstop Matt Hallstrom and senior outfielder Brandon Turner also return, while senior third baseman Taylor Martindale returns to add some pop to the lineup after taking last year off. Junior infielder Tommie Brazile and sophomore outfielder B.J. Peterson will also fill key roles, and all of the listed players should contribute on the pitching staff.

“Kids are working really hard and want to do well,” said head coach Kraig Gillman. “They’ve got a little experience in the playoffs and they’re looking to take it further.”

By Jeremy Helling


The Eagles have a relatively young squad with no seniors, but do have a talented, experienced junior class that will lead the way.

Junior all-league outfielder Kevin Breen should pace the offense, while junior Sam Veliz will head up the infield. Fellow juniors Taylor Roeloffs and Tyler Bogue will combine to man the catcher spot. Veliz, Bogue and Roeloffs will also lead the pitching staff, something head coach Gregg Leach noted should be a strength.

“As long as pitchers throw strikes, pitch to contact, I think we’re going to be fine,” Leach said. “Our offense, we need to come around with that. We’re going to be playing small ball.”

By Jeremy Helling


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