Coach: Pat Swapp (fourth year)
Last year: 20-3
Key returners: Ty Saunders, sr., SS/P; Ryan Rubalcava, sr., P/inf.; Jack Collins, jr., 2B/SS; Kaden Stevenson, sr., OF/P; Pierson Nordmark, jr., OF; Andrew Tiessen, jr., OF; Garrett Hilyer, sr., P/inf.; Logan Hilyer, soph., IB/P.
Key newcomers: Keegan Kennedy, sr., 1B/P; Joe Cutter, soph., OF; Ben Fountain, soph., P/C/inf.; Erik Dotzauer, fr., C.
Outlook: The Seahawks graduated several standouts, but return a crop of players that includes University of Portland commit Saunders.
Saunders and Jack Collins should give the Seahawks sterling defense up the middle ... and that’s not their only strength.
“We’ll play really good defense in the infield, especially up the middle. We have a lot of guys who can pitch ... For what we’ve lost, we’ve got a lot of guys who’ve played a lot of innings,” Swapp said.
He said the Seahawks will need to adjust to new roles, considering the graduation of standouts Caden Cornett, Lincoln Gilden and Anthony Notaro, who is now at Washington State.
Swapp said he knows this year’s group is ready to step up to the challenge.
“It’s a great group of kids. I’ve had a lot of them in class, I’ve known them for years. It’s a fun group to coach,” he said.
Coach: John Thurmond (13th year)
Last year: 19-5
Key returners: Isaiah Shetler, sr., P/1B; Jakob Fleury, sr., OF/P; Isaac Lindsay, sr., P/inf.; Axel Wilhonen, sr., CF; Trevor Wall, sr., 2B; Alex Thurmond, jr., SS.
Key newcomers: Shane Wall, sr., OF; Eli Fautheree, sr., C/OF; Will Watson, soph., P/inf., Garner Christensen, soph., C/OF; Colby Arnold, soph., P; Bret Johnson, jr., P; Hudson Hobbs, sr., C/inf./P
Outlook: The Tigers will lean on an experienced group to help them through another challenging season in the Northwest Conference.
Although the Tigers graduated nine players from last year’s playoff squad, coach John Thurmond said they bring back a valuable core.
“The senior class this year has a lot of playing experience,” he said.
He said two of the team’s three outfielders — Fleury and Wilhonen — will be in their third season starting, and three of the team’s pitchers — Fleury, Shetler and Lindsay — are also headed into their third season.
Shetler led last year’s team with a 1.09 earned-run average, five wins and 55 strikeouts.
In other spots, players are moving around, Thurmond said.
“Several guys are playing new positions; they started doing that in the summer,” he said. “It may take us a while to get going, but it’s a solid group of guys.”
Thurmond predicts another year of tough competition in the conference, including clashes with talented local teams Anacortes and Sedro-Woolley.
Coach: Randy Sweeney (fifth year)
League: Northwest 2B
Last year: 8-11
Key returners: Shayne Luttrell, sr., P/OF; Tyler Coffell, sr., P/C/inf.; Dalton Newby, sr., inf.; David O’Neil, sr., P/inf.; Peyton Sanchez, jr., OF/C; Killian McCormack, soph., OF; Shawn Powell, soph., OF.
Key newcomer: Marshall Fichter, sr., P/inf.
Outlook: While snow threw a wrench in the Lions’ early-season practices, it’s unlikely to prove too daunting to a veteran squad.
“We’ve got five seniors this year, we’ve never had that luxury,” Sweeney said. “All five will play prominent roles. Four senior pitchers who will anchor our staff, and that gives me confidence to have that much experience going to the mound.”
The returners include Coffell and Luttrell, who were all-league selections last year. Also coming back is Peyton Sanchez, an honorable mention all-league pick.
The club adds Fichter, a varsity player in prior years who didn’t play last year.
“We’ll have our struggles in the beginning, but a couple of weeks down the road? I’m confident about what we can do,” Sweeney said.
Mount Vernon Bulldogs
Coach: Tony Wolden (fifth year)
Conference: Western 4A
Last year: 16-9
Key returners: Reilly Olmsted, sr., P/OF; Travis Oord, sr., SS; Erik McGehee, sr., P/1B; Lane Harlan, sr., P/1B.; Hudson Rhynes, sr., P.; Finn Wilson, sr., C; Skyler Jensen, jr., 3B; Sam Nelson, jr. P/RF; Kyle Wolden, jr., inf.; Dylan Carter, jr., OF; Dane Williams, sr., P.
Key newcomer: Cole Williams, soph., C.
Outlook: Last year’s Bulldogs team was a state qualifier, and with many of the same players returning, coach Tony Wolden said he expects another competitive year.
Among the returners will be Olmsted, an all-WesCo 4A pitcher who won five games, sported a 3.14 earned-run average and struck out 70.
The Bulldogs won’t have a one-man staff, though. Also returning is Lane Harlan, who won five games and had a 0.71 ERA.
“We’re very balanced as far as experience goes. We’ve got quite a few guys returning who played on the WesCo-winning team in 2017 and the state team last year. They’re a hard-nosed competitive group who enjoy being at the ballpark and love the competition,” Tony Wolden said.
He also said Rhynes is expected to be an important contributor on the mound and newcomer Cole Williams, a sophomore, should get time at catcher.
Coach: Rob Davie (second year)
Last year: 9-14
Key returners: Weston Abbott, sr., P/RF; Tyler Goss, sr., CF; Alex Hulst, sr., 1B/P; Cody Buchanan, sr., 3B/P; Cody Hamilton, sr., C; Carter Trammell, sr., SS/P/OF; Michael Hall, sr., SS/P/OF; Wyatt Magee, sr., P/OF/inf.; Ryan Magee, sr., P/OF.
Key newcomers: Owen Murdock, soph., OF/P; Colsen Friedrichs, soph., 2B/P; Logan Johnson, jr., P/1B.
Outlook: The Cubs bring back a large number of talented players from last year’s squad, and with many of them in their senior seasons, they expect to make noise in conference play.
“I think they look very strong. I’m expecting big things,” Davie said. “They played together last year as juniors. I’ve got great expectations for them and I know they’ll live up to them.”
The Cubs’ returners include Alex Hulst, who led the team with a .345 batting average, and Tyler Goss and Cody Buchanan, who each scored 17 runs. Buchanan led the team in earned-run average (2.00) and strikeouts (40).
— Skagit Valley Herald staff