Under first year head coach Pete Weymiller, the Seahawks were poised to make a deep run in the Class 3A state tournament last year. They had their ace on the mound, Scott Russell, who went into state tournament with a ridiculous 0.45 earned run average. However, on May 18, 2013, he wasn't perfect, and Peninsula fell in the early-round state tournament game 3-1 to Meadowdale High School.
“(Russell had) one bad inning, and that was it,” Weymiller said. “That was our season.”
The Seahawks lose a lot of that team, highlighted by Russell and Weymiller's oldest son, Alex. All in all, they graduated 11 seniors. The Seahawks won't dwell on the past though, as the spring air has them looking toward the future with wide eyes.
Peninsula returns their starting shortstop, senior Shane Hanon, who batted .350 a year ago and earned all-league honors in the 3A South Puget Sound League. Hanon, who is committed to Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon for next season, wants to be even better this season.
“I'd like to hit above .400,” Hanon said. “I'd like to make as little errors as possible, hopefully none. I'd like to get a first team all-league. I also want to get a banner up there (on the outfield fence), I want an all-state.”
If Hanon can do those things, Peninsula should have a good shot at reaching their team goal, which is to return to state. The Seahawks have been the last two seasons.
“(We want) to keep the tradition going,” Hanon said. “We've been to state the last two years. We'd like to get there again. We have a young team but I think we can do it. We'll surprise some people.”
The Seahawks have a lot of gaps to fill from a season ago, which means bringing up several players who played JV a season ago and don't have varsity experience. Weymiller said their work ethic should make up for their top-level inexperience, though.
“Hard work pays,” he said. “These guys are hard workers. Fundamentally, we're gonna be good. I don't think we're going to have many super stars like we had last year, but we have a bunch of good guys and they really get along well, and they have fun together. Our motto is we're going to compete every day in practice, we're going to practice the way we want to play. Right now they're doing that.”
The team also returns talented sophomore pitcher Jimmy Ritchie, who was also one of the basketball team's stars this year. Junior Ben Weymiller will bring experience to the center field position, and junior Christian Lewis shores up a talented infield. Lewis said the team has excellent chemistry and is willing to put into the work to match last year's success, and hopefully exceed it.
“We want to have a solid team so we want to keep it up from last year,” Lewis said. “Last year went pretty far, so we're hoping to get around there. So as much as I can contribute, anything I can.”
It's no secret around the league that Peninsula had a deep, talented senior class a season ago. The rest of the league is expecting a drop-off this season, and that belief motivates this team.
“Last year, we had it pretty much handed to us, we walked in with the skill,” Ben Weymiller said. “This year, we really have to work for it. We have a little more fire than in years past.”
Ben Weymiller said the team is putting in the work and improving week to week.
“(We want to) be successful and have fun,” he said. “We want to make it as far as we can and enjoy doing it.”
Peninsula opens their schedule at home with South Kitsap on Friday, March 14 at 3:30 p.m.
Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.