Evan Douglas is one of those athletes who make baseball look easy.
The Shadle Park senior has been a four-year starter at shortstop for coach Ron Brooks and Douglas quietly goes about his business, which usually includes smashing a baseball past the other team’s outfielders.
As of last Sunday, Douglas was second in the Greater Spokane League in batting behind Ferris’ Tanner Parker. Douglas was hitting .538 with six doubles (tied for league lead), four home runs (leading league) and 11 RBIs (fourth).
“Evan is really a special kid in my time at Shadle,” said Brooks, who has three decades at the school. “He always has the same demeanor. He’s a very humble boy. He hardly says anything about the things he accomplishes.”
Douglas started the season hampered by an ankle sprain he suffered in football. But he’s overcome the injury and has been aided by the recent hot streak by teammate Brett Rypien.
Ferris coach Jim Sharkey said he found out the hard way on Tuesday that Rypien has found his batting stroke.
“With Evan, what we tried to do was get him out of his comfort zone,” Sharkey said, referring to Douglas. “He’s got really quick hands. We put a shift on him. It forced him to try something different.”
When Brooks and Douglas saw the outfield shift, Douglas looked at his skipper, who gave the OK for Douglas to try a bunt.
“That’s a good defensive call,” Brooks said of Sharkey’s shift. “Evan tried to lay down a drag, which wasn’t a bad counter attack.”
But Sharkey’s ploy worked. He got Douglas out and then had to face Rypien.
“We got (Douglas) out a couple times. And we walked him. But Rypien is the one who killed us,” Sharkey said. “He’s really swinging the bat well right now.”
Rypien drove in four runs in the 8-4 Shadle Park win over Ferris (9-5, 8-4). Brooks said his all-world catcher, and Division I quarterback recruit, has found his groove now that he’s committed to play at Boise State.
“He’s playing stress-free now. The poor little guy was pressing with his football situation,” Brooks said. “He handled that very well. But you could really tell that it was always at the back of his mind.
“Once it ended, he’s just out there playing. He’s a fierce competitor, a hard-nosed kid,” Brooks said. “Brett does things for us that people don’t even know. He’s a very knowledgeable catcher.”
Brooks tries to keep Douglas hitting in the third position to get him more at-bats. That puts Rypien in position to snag more RBIs for Shadle Park (11-4, 9-4), which now sits a half-game up on Ferris for third in the GSL.
“He’s been a fun kid to watch and develop and grow,” Brooks said of Douglas. “He’s having a very good year for us. I’m going to miss him. I wish I had two or three more like him.”
While Shadle has Douglas and Rypien smashing the ball, Ferris turns to a do-it-all junior who continues to lead the league in hitting despite a minor slump.
Last week, Tanner Parker was hitting .700. In the next week, Parker got 13 at-bats and added six hits to drop his average to .606.
“He actually got up to .750,” Ferris coach Jim Sharkey said. “In the next game (after the stats came out), he went 4 for 4. I was like, ‘This is absurd.’ Then he goes like two for his next nine to drop down.”
Hitting comes so natural to Parker that he expects to get a hit every time.
“One of his biggest strengths is his confidence,” Sharkey said. “He’s kind of amazed when he gets out. This isn’t a fluke. He is a big-time prospect. He will get a chance to play ball at the next level.”
In addition to his exploits with a bat, Parker is one of Ferris’ most important arms.
As of last weekend, Parker had a record of 2-2 with a 2.14 ERA and 11 strikeouts. He also has a save.
“Looking at him, you wouldn’t realize what kind of athlete he is,” Sharkey said. “But he’s got a really strong arm. He’s one of the top infielders in the league. He loves the game. He’s just a strong all-around baseball player.”
Just like Douglas has Rypien hitting behind him, Sharkey has Parker hit between seniors Tim Yoshihara, who was hitting .524 with 15 runs scored, and Alex Jondal, who was hitting .364 with 14 RBIs.
“That has worked out nice,” Sharkey said. “A lot of time, Tanner gets good pitches to hit because they can’t pitch around him.”
Parker is a right-handed pitcher who bats from the left side with a swing that Sharkey described as “pure.”
“He played JV as a freshman, but he probably could have played that year,” Sharkey said. “I watched him develop. He’s a true baseball player. There are a few around town. But he just loves to play the game and plays the game well.”
As of last week, Mt. Spokane fireballer Drew Rasmussen had 35 strikeouts in 25 innings.
Three big games later, Rasmussen now leads the league with 56 strikeouts in 38 innings. For those who don’t like to do math, that’s 21 strikeouts in his last 13 innings for the Wildcats (10-4, 9-3), who are second in the GSL.
“Gosh, he is throwing absolutely great,” Mt. Spokane coach Alex Schuerman said. “He’s lights-out.”
Rasmussen, who has committed to attend Oregon State, earned wins against Mead, University and a huge 4-1 win over league-leading Gonzaga Prep (13-2, 12-1).
“No doubt about it, when he pitches, he makes my job a lot easier,” Schuerman said.