Vikings chase 5A title
Confident but not cocky.
That explains the state of the Coeur d’Alene Vikings as they prepare for the Idaho 5A state tournament that begins Thursday at Hawks Memorial Stadium in Boise.
The Vikings don’t expect to win a state championship, but they certainly believe they’ll challenge. And their goal is nothing less than a state title.
The Region I champ Vikings (23-1), who take a 17-game winning streak to state, open against District III fifth seed Mountain View (17-9) at 6:15 p.m. PDT. Lewiston (15-10), which lost to CdA five times, faces one of the pretourney favorites, Rocky Mountain (19-6), at noon.
CdA will start senior right-handed pitcher Jake Pereira (10-0, 0.90 ERA).
“It’s been really cool to go out and be consistent and control all of my pitches,” said Pereira, a three-year starter whose career record is 19-2. “We can win a state title. Our team chemistry is amazing. I’ve never played on a team that’s been this close.”
Pereira said that if the opportunity presents itself to be in the state title game, he plans on coming back on one day rest to pitch Saturday.
“I’m hoping we can walk out on top,” Pereira said.
It’s been the dream of Pereira and fellow three-year starters Drew Turbin (shortstop), Colin Comack (pitcher/infielder) and Matt Lambert (infielder) since they were sophomores to win a state title.
Turbin (wide receiver) and Lambert (wide receiver/defensive back) were starters on CdA’s state-title-winning football team last fall. They’re part of a special senior class.
“With the kind of success we’ve had on this team, the kind of talent we have, we definitely smell the blood right now,” said Lambert, who leads CdA in hitting (.474). “Mainly, we just have to play defense like we’ve been playing. We’ll produce runs. It’s a matter of holding more of those talented teams at state to a lower run total than us.”
Turbin said the winning mentality this year started in football.
“Everybody bought in,” Turbin said. “Baseball has been the same way.”
Turbin appreciates that the Vikings are a group of hard-working players, not a bunch of individual stars.
“We don’t have one super star,” Turbin said. “Obviously, we have some good players, but there’s not just one standout. All of us can hit and throw it. Hopefully, we get it done.”
Comack can experience something few athletes ever do in high school. He was a starting linebacker and backup running back in football, he was on the wrestling team that captured a second straight state title and now has a chance to bring home gold in baseball.
Comack (2-0, 3.00 ERA) will start on the mound in the second game.
“I’m sure there will be times that we’re tested at state, but I think we’ll come through,” Comack said.
• In 4A, Lakeland (13-12) opens against Skyview of Nampa (13-13) at Bishop Kelly High School in Boise at 3.
• In 3A, Bonners Ferry (10-13) opens against Buhl at noon and Priest River (12-10) starts against Fruitland at 6 when the tourney is staged at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore.
In Washington, the round of 16 and quarterfinals take place Saturday at locations throughout the state.
Ferris (19-3) takes on perennial 4A state power Richland (18-6) at County Stadium in Yakima at 10 a.m.
The winner faces the possibility of a rematch with Walla Walla (20-6) in the quarterfinals at 4.
“I thought we responded well on Saturday,” Ferris coach Jim Sharkey said of the Saxons’ state-qualifying 7-6 win over Moses Lake.
Ferris will be seeking to qualify for the final four for the first time since 1992.
“The nice thing about this senior class is they understand that we’ve got to worry about ourselves and can’t look too far ahead,” Sharkey said. “They’ve been through it in football and basketball. They’ve had a lot of success.”
Ferris would like another game against Walla Walla, which hammered the Saxons 12-0 in a regional opener last week.
Senior left-handed pitcher Spencer Ansett (9-1) will start against Richland. If Ferris wins, freshman lefty Tim Yoshihara and junior righty Michael Renner would be available for the next game.
• In 2A, Pullman (17-5) and Clarkston (18-6) also head to Yakima where the round of 16 will be held at Davis High School.
Pullman (19-3) takes on East Valley of Yakima at 10 a.m. and Clarkston meets Selah at 1. The winners face off at 4.
Pitcher Nick Scourey (8-0) will start for Pullman.
“We’ve been fortunate to get there (the final four) a couple of times,” Pullman coach Lance Lincoln said. “Going into the season we didn’t feel like we had the team to do it. We’re comfortable with who we are and our style. We want to stay with our game plan – play good defense, pitch it a little and hopefully get some offense. That’s been our recipe all year.”
• In 1A, Freeman (14-7) meets Kiona-Benton or Columbia Burbank at Eastmont at 10 a.m., while Colville (18-7) meets Naches Valley or Zillah at Moses Lake at 10.
More than satisfied
That best describes University coach Scott Sutherland about his team’s season that ended in a loss to Kamiakin for a state berth Saturday.
“We were very pleased with the season,” said Sutherland, whose team, which finished 18-6 overall, took second in the Greater Spokane League and won the district title. “We didn’t foresee us being district champs this year. At the end of the season we thought this was the most we ever got out of a club.”
U-Hi was 12-9 last year and had “better talent last year,” Sutherland said.
In other words, the Titans overachieved.
“Absolutely, no question,” Sutherland said. “Some of the kids really excelled where we weren’t sure.”