Courtesy of BHS Athletics
Baseball head coach John Lamm has big expectations for his seniors this year. Lamm hopes his team will make the state playoffs again this year.

Beavers Spring Sports Preview

The weather may not seem like it but spring season is here. For student-athletes at Ballard High School this means spring sports have started.

Softball:

Coming off one of the greatest seasons in BHS history, the BHS softball team has high hopes for the 2012 season.

"We were one game from State and for the first time in our school's history we won a playoff game, we actually won three," said head coach Kyle Grey.

"What we learned last year is that "State" is absolutely something this program can accomplish and should always set its goals for every season. Just a few years ago that would have been laughed at but now teams need to take Ballard as one of the top teams."
After losing five valuable senior players, Grey had some big spots to fill but said they've been working hard in the past years to build up a strong JV team.

"We are going to have some holes to fill and get girls ready to go quickly because we have scheduled a tougher non-league schedule this year to help prepare us for big games in the future," he said.  

The BHS softball team will have the toughest competition against rival Roosevelt and Inglemoor.
"[Inglemoor] was certainly our signature win last year and I think that one meant the most to the team," Grey said. "We will be tested early and often and I expect the girls to respond well to the challenge as they always have before." 

Baseball:

Baseball head coach John Lamm also has big expectations for his team this year.

"Reflecting back we met our goal of the playoffs [last year]. Now the expectation is the playoffs and our goal is to make the state playoffs this year," Lamm said.

The baseball team won the batting title last year with .316 average but the team did not score many runs, Lamm said, adding that the coaching staff has been working with the students on understanding the game as well as base running.

His rooster includes many familiar faces as last season's starting line-up in the playoffs included six sophomores and two juniors. Among the returning players are pitchers Calib Jaeger and Joe Jacobson.

But Ballard's strength will be at bat, Lamm said.

"We lost two top five Kingco hitters in Brendan Foor ( Edmonds CC ) and Oliver Guranio (UPS) last year but we are returning seven hitters from last year," he said. "With Junior Ryan Kangas, Junior Rory Graf-Brennan, who is primed for a huge year, and seniors Nelson Cooper and Steven Weber, we will put the ball in play."

Lamm said Woodinville is the team to beat this year.

"They have a strong team and one very good arm to lead them. The other side of the division is stacked with Newport who has two high end arms. Remember last year Kingco sent three teams to State and one being the State champions in Bothel," Lamm said. "Nothing is easy in this division and this conference wins the State title in many sports."

Lamm encourages people to come support the team and looks forward to an exciting year.

"Many of the top player's in our program have set the bar very high. This makes everyone in the program better and many have worked hard this off season to compete at this high level," Lamm said.

The team crushed Renton in a non-league game 20 to 1 in five innings last night, and will play at home (at Whitman) today at 3:45, weather permitting.

Ultimate:

Ultimate Frisbee should also have another exciting season. The Ballard Ultimate teams are some of the best in the state.
 
"Last year was quite the thrilling season.  The girls placed 2nd at the State tournament in only their second year of existence as a girls' team.  Although we have lost four senior superstars, I expect the remaining core to step up and play even more seamlessly as a team," said coach Carmella Vizza.

Vizza said one of the most valuable lesson of the previous season was learning that every member on the team has to be a confident role-player and realize they have the potential to make a great throw, catch, or block.

The team has seven returning players this year and Vizza said she's expecting a lot from captains Ali Swenson, Melanie Jochheim-Atkins, and T.Q. Yen.  

Additionally, Sophomore Leeza Olson will be stepping up to fill a primary handler role.

"I hope to see Juliette Birkner continue making well-timed cuts to get our offense started and other players to watch out for are the two returners who improved the most during last season," Vizza said. "Expect to see Maddie Gilbert tearing it up on defense with her keen field sense, monster blocks, and limitless effort!  Mareya Welsh will be a huge downfield receiver for our team this year due to her outbursts of speed and amazing grabs."

Vizza expect the competition to be just as tough as last season and said the Northwest School is the team to beat. 

"They not only won the State Championship last year, but they also dominated at High School Westerns, she said. "Franklin is another team to watch because they have been improving at such a fast rate."

The team's first non-league game is against Holy Names Academy on March 15 at 3:30 PM at the Interbay Athletic Complex grass fields.

Soccer:

The Ballard boys soccer team has a brand new team and coach this season. Coach Mark Nicholson joined the program this year and started off by replacing 10 players who graduated last year.

"I had 11 rooster spots to fill," he said. "But I do have seven returning players and Sam Zisette will be a great leader for us."

Nicholson said Kingco 4A is the toughest competition in the State with powerhouses like Skyline and Eastlake.

"But I'm a coach that has a lot of expectations," he said.

An Issaquah High School alumnus, Nicholson looks forward going up against his old school.

"If there's one game I'm hoping to win it's Issaquah," he said.

Nicholson previously taught at University Prep and said the jump to a varsity high school team was big.

"At this level it's all about fine tuning the skills they already have rather than focusing on player progression," he said.

The soccer team played a non-league game against Franklin Pierce last night, which resulted in a tie.

Their next non-league game is schedules against Kamiak for Saturday, March 17, at 1 p.m. at the Interbay Stadium

Visit the Ballard Athletics website at http://ballardathletics.org/ for information about all Beaver sports.

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