With the basketball season coming to a close, the pinstripes and deer-tanned cowhide are ready to come off the shelf. Baseball, the sport of legends, is only weeks away and Coach Jim Passer is looking forward to the “best season in years.”
This my come as a surprise to some, considering that only three years ago the program was revived. But, there is a touch, if not a whole handprint, of truth to it, for Passer made it clear early on that previous years served as building blocks for a strong, well-rounded, and close future team. Indeed, the group of players this year exhibit exceptional unity, the roots of which lay deep in island life.
One of the most unique benefits that an island provides is the natural cohesion of its inhabitants. Nearly every player on the baseball team experienced this throughout their childhood and may just be the reason why Passer’s statement is so bold. However, the Coaches are not the only people who are aware of this tight-knit team chemistry. Parents, fans, and islanders in general have long noticed this. A long-time baseball parent noted that “a lot of these guys have been friends since nursery school. They all love baseball and they are all best friends.” So, whether it was in a cow pasture, apple orchard, or even on Harlow field at Buck Park, the Orcas Island Viking boys baseball team came together much earlier than in high school.
That is not to say that this chain of a team is composed of weak links. No, every individual player provides an ample contribution to the whole with their own talent. The rotation (pitchers) are notable for having a vast tool set of different pitches plus flaming fastballs as well. The stalwart infield does an incredible job of keeping the ball out of the outfield who, if the ball does venture into their territory, will sure-handedly make the catch, whether it be diving, off the fence, or in the midst of an athletic slide. From an offensive standpoint, co-captain Mackey Cardinell says “we will try to go to hitting clinics for near-professional coaching and as a team will emphasize time in the batting cage.” So, fans should be ready for an exciting season in the batter’s box, it will be a hit!
With three dedicated, baseball-loving coaches and a ready supply of talented and enthusiastic ball players, the final piece of the puzzle is a committed and roaring crowd. Not only is the baseball team exciting to watch as a dedicated fan points out: “the team, when they play, turns a slow sport into an exciting game”, but with spring ripening and the sun peering out of the sky, Buck Park is a beautiful place to sit back and relax.
Fans aren’t a necessity to the high school team and program because of the money they bring to the school, for there is no charge to watching the games and therefore no financial benefit. It is rather their presence alone that matters. Not only does it inspire and motivate players to play well, but, more importantly, it shows a pride that the community has in being affiliated with the school and even as being an Orcas Islander. That is what is important to the team, school, and community; pride.
The “best season in years” cannot be so without the help of the fans. Just like how the Seattle Seahawks accredit so much of their success to the 12th man, that is, their crowd, the Orcas Island High School baseball team feels that a key part of their success will be the involvement of the community. The football team had it, as did the boys and girls basketball teams, now it’s time to take it out into the sun and watch the bats crack.