Freeman set its goals for the 2011 season about a week after the 2010 campaign concluded.
The Scotties wanted the goals to be clear through the summer, fall and winter.
“This team set some pretty high goals,” Freeman coach Chad Ripke said. “We’ve checked a few off.”
The Scotties tied for the Northeast A championship with Lakeside, and Freeman captured the District 7 1A title last Saturday.
Freeman’s next goal is to get through the bi-district tournament against the Caribou Trail League and advance to regionals. From there, the Scotties want to end up in Yakima, site of the state tournament.
The Scotties open bi-district play Saturday at Central Valley against a to-be-determined opponent.
“I thought this team could compete and challenge for league and district championships,” Ripke said. “We only lost three kids from last year. We had our key contributors back.”
What Ripke didn’t know as the season approached, though, was the adversity the Scotties would have to overcome. They didn’t play one game on their home field this season. The overly rainy spring kept Freeman’s field unplayable.
“Up until last week, we had just two practices on our field,” Ripke said. “The field was soft all spring. We had standing water all year in left field.”
Freeman played “home” games at Gonzaga Prep, Rogers, Medical Lake and Northwest Christian.
“Those schools graciously lended their fields to us,” Ripke said. “At one point during the season, one of the parents called us ‘Road Warriors.’ That kind of stuck and became our motto.”
The Scotties amazed their coach.
“I can’t say enough about this team,” Ripke said. “They’ve been resilient for having to practice basically inside all year. It starts with a lot of great senior leadership. They’ve kept the team focused.”
Senior shortstop Cameron Duckett and junior infielder Mitch Vander Linden have led the Scotties in hitting. Duckett (.500, 31 for 62) has stolen a team-leading 17 bases. Vander Linden (.500, 28 for 56) has five triples, one short of the school record, and a team-high 27 RBIs.
Duckett was named co-most valuable player of the league with Nick Naccarato of Chewelah. Vander Linden was a first team all-league pick.
Vander Linden led the Scotties in two district games last week, going 6 for 8, including two triples, a homer and five RBIs.
Other Scotties picked to the all-league first team were senior pitcher Justin Altmeyer (7-2, 2.90 ERA) and junior second baseman Ben Zakheim (.412). Senior outfielder Chris Barkley (.321) and sophomore catcher Wyatt Smith (.306) were second-team picks.
Altmeyer picked up both district victories, the second coming in one inning of relief in the title game.
Other key contributors have been junior outfielder/pitcher Zak Allen (2-0, 1.85 ERA, .356) and junior pitcher Clayton Panzeri (2-3).
Freeman started the season 2-4, including back-to-back losses to Lakeside. The Scotties have won 11 of their last 13.
“We’re playing some good baseball at the right time,” Ripke said. “We told the kids we wanted to be playing our best ball in May, not March and April. We didn’t get down on ourselves when we were 2-4. Where we are as a team, under the circumstances, is amazing.”
The 4A and 3A regionals begin today at two sites in Spokane and the Tri-Cities.
In 4A, Ferris (18-2) and Richland (17-5) earned host berths and first-round byes. At Ferris, Greater Spokane League No. 3 seed Gonzaga Prep (15-8) faces Columbia Basin Big Nine No. 2 Walla Walla (17-6) at 1 in a loser-out game with the winner meeting GSL No. 1 Ferris at 4. At Richland, GSL No. 2 Mead (12-9) takes on CBBN No. 3 Moses Lake (9-15) at 1 in a loser-out game with the winner playing CBBN No. 1 Richland at 4.
Play resumes Saturday at Ferris with two games, at noon and 3, deciding three state berths.
Richland, a perennial 4A state power that has been ranked No. 1 in the state much of the season, captured its fifth straight district title.
• In 3A, University (18-4) and Southridge (18-2) earned host berths and first-round byes. At University, CBBN No. 4 Hanford (11-11) goes against CBBN No. 2 Kennewick (16-4) at 1 in a loser-out game with the winner meeting GSL No. 1 U-Hi at 4. At Southridge, GSL No. 2 Mt. Spokane (12-10) plays CBBN No. 3 Kamiakin (18-4) at 1 in a loser-out game with the winner meeting CBBN No. 1 Southridge at 4.
Play resumes Saturday at Southridge with two games, at noon and 3, deciding three state berths.
• In Idaho, the 3A District I tournament begins today at Timberlake, which will also be the site of games Friday and Saturday.
In a loser-out opener today, No. 5 seed Kellogg (5-9) takes on No. 4 St. Maries (3-11) at 4.
In games Friday, No. 2 Bonners Ferry (8-11) faces No. 3 Priest River (10-9) at 2, followed by the Kellogg/St. Maries winner meeting No. 1 Timberlake (10-8) at 4.
The championship game is Saturday at noon. The top two teams advance to state.
Here are some of the top CBBN hitters and pitchers heading into regionals. Kevin Toon of Walla Walla batted .552 (37 for 67) to lead 4A teams and Corey Morris of Richland was next at .500 (32 for 64). Jarrod Turner and Zach Rapacz of Richland and Matt Watson of WaHi each had five homers and Watson led in RBIs with 36. Pitcher Syd Hall of Richland, who picked up two wins last week in district play, finished league play with a league-leading 1.38 ERA to go with a 4-0 record. Drew Christina of WaHi had the second-best ERA (1.71) and led in wins (9-0) and strikeouts (70).
In CBBN 3A, Trek Stemp of Kennewick had the best average (.574, 27 for 47). Garrett Wilz of Kennewick had seven homers, one more than Stemp. Four tied for the most RBIs – Wilz, Matt Mendenhall and Ty Jackson of Southridge and Drew Oord of Kamiakin – with 26 each. Pitcher Logan Jackson of Kamiakin had the top ERA (1.75), followed by Conner O’Neil of Southridge (1.78) and Garrett Anderson of Kamiakin (1.86). Anderson had the best record at 6-0 and Jackson was next at 5-0 with a league-best three saves.
Thomas Wakem of U-Hi finished first in four GSL categories – average (.627, 37 for 59), doubles (12), runs (32) and RBIs (42). Paul Miller of Mead was first in homers (seven) and stolen bases (21) and he tied in triples (four) with Matt Durant of Rogers. Spencer Ansett of Ferris had a hat trick in pitching – top ERA (1.19), wins (7-0) and strikeouts (66). … Ferris was named the 4A state academic champion in baseball. The Saxons had a combined 3.647 grade-point average.