By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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The best from the entire Peninsula, not just Port Angeles and Sequim, from where most Wilder players have historically hailed.
“The main focus is we want to create a program that is an Olympic Peninsula program,” new Wilder head coach Mike Politika said.
“We want the community to know that it's not just a Port Angeles program.”
Wilder, an elite Senior Babe Ruth team, will hold tryouts Monday and Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Civic Field in Port Angeles.
Players are to meet at the south end of the stadium 15 minutes prior to tryouts each day.
Tryouts are open to all baseball players born prior to May 1, 1998, and on or after Jan. 1, 1995, from Forks, Joyce, Port Angeles, Sequim, Port Townsend, Chimacum, Quilcene and surrounding areas.
Politika takes over as Wilder's coach following the one-year tenure of Chad Wagner, who earlier this year also resigned as Port Angeles High School's baseball coach after one year due to a new work schedule.
Politika is no stranger to Wilder, having served as an assistant to previous head coaches Scott Brodhun and Rob Merritt from 2006-12.
Politika also was a player in the program under Brodhun.
This year, Wilder also has been restructured to consist of a senior team and a junior team.
Politika will coach the senior team, which will be made up of 17- and 18-year-olds and possibly some 16-year-olds.
John Qualls is the head coach of the junior team.
Qualls seems like the perfect choice to coach the junior team.
Not only was he the coach when Wilder Baseball last had a junior team several years ago, Qualls also is the Sequim High School JV coach and he coached the Sequim 18U team last summer.
Like the Wilder junior team, Sequim 18U, which is now defunct, was largely made up of players ages 14 through 16.
So he's familiar with many of the kids who will play on the junior team.
“I love that age group,” Qualls said.
“There is a great crop of kids coming up.”
The junior team will better prepare the players for the senior team.
It also makes it easier to include players from throughout the Peninsula.
“The sooner we can get these kids together, the more successful the senior program will be,” Qualls said.
The senior and junior teams will practice and play their home games at Civic Field.
The majority of the Wilder senior team's games will be at home this season, but the junior team will spend much of its season on the road.
“That's the breaks of a brand new program,” Qualls said.
The senior and junior teams will both play in the annual Firecracker Classic at Civic Field in early July.
Both teams also will play in the Senior Babe Ruth state tournament July 10-13. Wilder is hosting the tournament at Civic Field, which means the senior and junior teams both automatically qualify.
The state tournament winner earns a spot at the Babe Ruth World Series, which will be held in Ephrata in early August.
The regional tournament will be in Vancouver, Wash., so the Wilder players won't have a chance to see a different part of the country should they reach the World Series this year.
On the bright side, though, they won't have to travel far and they probably won't be playing in 100-degree heat as they did at the 2012 World Series in Weimar, Texas.
Politika's assistant coaches with the senior team will be Zac Moore and Perry Knudsen, both of Port Angeles.
Qualls' coaching staff includes an assistant from Jefferson County, Darrin Dotson of Chimacum, along with Chris Young of Sequim and Buck Geiseke of and Derek Crain of Port Angeles.
Even players who previously played for Wilder must tryout Monday and Tuesday.
Politka said Wilder prefers to have players who played baseball in the spring, whether it was with a high school or college team, and who have aspirations to play college baseball.
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