Spring sports deserve support

March 26, 2014 

For some reason, spring sports never seem to get the same level of support that fall and winter sports do. Football draws large crowds on Friday nights, and the basketball teams pack the gyms, but the spring fan bases often are limited to family members and close friends.

I’ve never understood that. I can’t figure out why only a few people would want to watch their local high school baseball team play on a beautiful, sunny day.

Baseball, one of the three major sports in the United States, suffers the worst fan support at the high school level. I refuse to buy into the argument that it’s because people perceive the sport as “boring,” because support isn’t an issue at the professional level.

Maybe it is with the Seattle Mariners, but that has more to do with the ineptitude of the team than the entertainment of the sport itself.

There are some great opportunities to get out this spring and check out some of the local talent.

On the diamond, Peninsula High School has built a perennial contender, having been to the Class 3A state tournament two years in a row. While the team lost a lot of its talent due to graduation, it’s poised to make another run through the postseason with its young players.

Gig Harbor High’s baseball team returns a strong senior class, led by first-team all-Narrows 4A third baseman Sterling Brown, pitcher/outfielder Conor Scanlan and catcher Mark Sluys. The team’s experience has the players eyeing a league title this season.

On the girls side, the Peninsula fastpitch team is rebuilding. Senior first and third baseman Alaina Morgan leads the Seahawks, who are looking to stay competitive this season.

Gig Harbor has been close to the state tournament for the past couple seasons, but it hasn’t quite made it. Sophomore Marin Malich and freshman Jordan Adams will provide a one-two punch in the rotation for the Tides, who are hoping to take the next step this year.

Don’t worry if it’s a rainy day. The Gig Harbor girls water polo team will have you covered.

The Tides have been dominant in the past four years with three state titles and a runner-up finish. Senior Julia Ponce leads a team that’s more than capable of claiming a fourth crown in five years, and its schedule is chalk full of intriguing matchups against teams like Curtis, which beat the Tides for the state title a season ago.

The Peninsula water polo team is hoping to emulate Gig Harbor’s success as head coach Chelsea Laning continues to rebuild the program. She’s instilled the same system that has proven to be successful with the Peninsula boys team. Senior Jessica Clayton and junior Tara Price will lead the Seahawks.

Missing football? Well, you’re in luck.

Both Gig Harbor and Peninsula will play football this spring — the original football, which we Americans call “soccer” for some reason.

The Tides are led by goalie Matt Stephens and midfielder Davis McCall, both captains who believe they have the pieces in place to make a run at the state tournament.

The Peninsula soccer team, under second-year head coach Brian Lawson, hopes to place in the top-four in the South Puget Sound 3A League this season, and that would give them a postseason berth. The Seahawks are led by senior co-captains Noah Hanks and David Rodriguez.

If you missed the remarkable success of Gig Harbor’s national championship boys cross country team this fall, you’ll get another opportunity because they’ll run in the distance races for the Tides’ track and field team.

The Tides’ top four cross country runners — Wolfgang Beck, Logan Carroll, Tristan Peloquin and Mahmoud Moussa — immediately make Gig Harbor state-title contenders. Senior Garrett Steuk will provide some balance in the sprints.

The Gig Harbor girls side is loaded with top-level talent as well. The Tides return Naphtali Ward, the state’s top 4A high jumper, as well as hurdler Alison Corsi and distance runner Brenna Peloquin.

The Peninsula track and field team is worth checking out, too. In 2012, the boys finished fourth at state.

Although neither the Seahawks’ boys nor the girls placed at state last season, they have reason to believe they can get back on the podium this year. Senior O’Shea McLaughlin will pace the Peninsula boys relays, and junior Megan Eberhardt will provide plenty of speed for the girls.

Peninsula senior javelin thrower Ben Smith placed third at state last year, and he thinks he can shoot for the state title this season.

These are just a few of the sports worth checking out this spring. Go support these teams the same way you support football or basketball.

There’s plenty of special talent at both schools, and the athletes deserve recognition and support for all the hard work they put in to perfect their talents.

Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151.

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