When the Greater Spokane Baseball season usually starts up, the weather is often unpredictable. Most teams and fans have to prepare for all four seasons, sometimes in the same afternoon.
“That’s maybe the one positive thing to starting late, you know?” Mt. Spokane coach Alex Schuerman said. “We maybe missed some of that bad weather.”
In this 18th season as head coach, Schuerman’s seen his share of rain, snow and wind during the GSL season.
When last on the field, his Wildcats went 17-1 in league and 22-3 overall, eventually falling to Lake Washington in a State 3A quarterfinal.
Even though 13 letter-winners have left the program the past two years, the Wildcats have four starters back and a strong junior class on which to build.
After a fall and winter of uncertainty, at least they’re playing again.
“It’s so good,” he said. “I’ve said this phrase so many times – it’s just good for the soul. Like, if you’re a baseball guy, you love being at the field. So for me, this is like home away from home.
“We got a bunch of baseball rats and so to see them get put a uniform on, some have been dying to put one on for two years.”
Schuerman got a little choked up when contemplating not playing this season, especially since his son Jeter is in his senior year before playing at Community Colleges of Spokane next season. It all means a little more now.
“I think it does,” he said. “I think it was hard. I get emotional because of my son, but I think the fear of losing (the season) again was hard. We didn’t know, right? We didn’t know for a long time this year and so to have it, I think it’s special.”
As for the product on the field, Schuerman said one of the biggest challenges this season will be stretching pitchers out with so little ramp-up time.
“Everyone’s coming in at kind of a different spot with where they were, you know, from the winter workouts and things like that and what they’ve done on their own.”
The Wildcats’ key returners include juniors Jordan Hockett (SS/P), Carson Coffield (INF/P) and Jaxson Davis (OF). Junior pitchers Tyler Alm and Sam Martens are among key newcomers.
Central Valley (21-4, 16-2, second): The 2019 Bears made it to state but were knocked out in the first round. Five starters return from that team for fourth-year coach Jeramie Maupin, including seniors Kyle Parkman (P/OF) and Ryan Clay (SS), and juniors Parker Smith, who has committed to Gonzaga, and Andrew Monson (CC Spokane).
Gonzaga Prep (13-11, 10-8, fifth): Brian Munhall is back for his 12th season with the Bullpups. He has five returners from the 2019 team, including all-league pitcher Garrett Gores and honorable mention catcher Brock Molenda. “(They) are two of the best players I’ve ever coached,” Munhall said.
Lewis and Clark (2-16, 2-16, ninth): Seven letter-winners and four starters return for eighth-year coach Steve Bennett. “We have a pretty deep group of pitchers and position players but are extremely inexperienced at the varsity level,” he said. Seniors Kellen Dehmer (INF), Matthew Rhinehart (1B/P) and Rick Greaves (OF/P) lead the Tigers.
Mead (13-10, 11-7, third): The Panthers return a solid core distributed between senior and junior classes, including college-bound players Elijah Hainline (Washington State) and Levi Nicodemus (Blue Mountain CC). “To be competitive, we need to have efficient pitching, clean defensive games with timely hits,” fourth-year coach Steve Hare said.
University (9-11, 9-9, seventh): Fifth-year coach Kevin May likes the makeup of his team. “Team chemistry is strong and we have some players that can swing it throughout the lineup,” he said. He’ll count on seniors Ricco Longo (INF), Triston Madison (C), Cannon Marshall (INF) and Kyle Douglas (P/OF) – all returning all-league picks.
North Central (3-19, 3-15, eighth): Seventh-year coach Mark Douglas has nine seniors, including returning starters 1B Brady Gies and SS/P Luther Allen. “Our pitching staff could be our biggest strength if we are able to improve our strike-throwing percentage as a staff,” Douglas said.
Pullman (16-5, 7-1 GNL, first): Like a lot of places, first-year coach Kevin Agnew saw low numbers in the program this year. But the Greyhounds have several seniors and good pitching, led by senior Hyatt Utzman, an all-leaguer as a sophomore who’s headed to Xavier next season.
Shadle Park (13-9, 11-7, fourth): Three-time GSL Coach of the Year Ron Brooks is back for his 37th season and he was just as anxious to get started as the players. “We can’t take anything for granted,” he said. The Highlanders have some rotation experience and senior Ryan Schmidt (OF/P) and all-league shortstop Sterling Lipscomb are leaders.
West Valley (10-8, 4-4 GNL, third): Coach Cory Aitken, in his seventh season, lost nine letter-winners from the 2019 district champs. Returning are senior corner infielder Dallas Gohl – who’s headed to Green River CC – and junior OF/P Andrew Aitken, the coach’s son, a second-team all-league pick as a frosh.
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