SEQUIM — Sequim’s Johnnie Young did a little bit of everything on the diamond for the Wolves baseball team this spring.
He lead the team offensively as the Sequim No. 3 hitter and on the mound where he threw strikes as the Wolves’ No. 1 starter.
When he wasn’t pitching, Young played nearly every position on the field besides middle infield.
Maybe most importantly, Young was Sequim’s unquestioned team leader “in every way,” according to head coach Dave Ditlefsen, on a squad filled with freshmen and sophomores.
“I agree that if you take Johnnie off our team we don’t have nearly the same amount of success that we did this year,” Ditlefsen said of Young’s value to the Wolves.
“He lead the team in every pitching and batting statistical category. I think we had him starting games at first base, catcher, pitcher, third base and in the outfield. He was the ultimate utility guy.”
Young was in fact selected to the All-Olympic League first team squad as its utility player.
“On top of his performance on the field, he was clearly our team leader,” Ditlefsen said.
“We don’t go through a captain naming process. We let the older kids develop that. And it was clear from day one the kids rallied around Johnnie. He did it so humbly, too. He’s never thought he was bigger than the game. And he was tasked with trying to bring together a young group with several sophomores and freshman starters. With Johnnie, the younger guys always knew where they stood and he was always welcome and open to all the guys and you don’t always see that with seniors with a pretty high pedigree.”
Young is the All-Peninsula Baseball MVP as selected by the sports staff of the Peninsula Daily News and area coaches.
He hit .472 with 25 hits, including five doubles, two triples, two homers and 24 RBIs with a .565 on-base percentage.
“Especially with us being super young, I knew I would get a fastball eventually, so my approach changed to waiting for that fastball and laying off borderline pitches,” Young said. “If I did get behind [in the count], I’d fight pitches off. It was about being aggressive and looking for the fastball.”
On the mound, Young posted a 5-2 record with a 3.09 ERA in 43 innings, including a 38-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. And one of the walks was intentional. Young was efficient for Sequim, throwing five complete games and limiting his pitch count by throwing strikes and staying out of trouble.
Young had games in which he threw 60 strikes in 79 pitches or 71 strikes in 94. Throwing strikes was the plan all along, Young said.
“I don’t throw as hard as most guys, so I was working hard to get that first pitch strike and get ahead in counts to get that adavantage on the hitter and go from there,” Young said.
With a fastball, a curve and a changeup in his arsenal, Young said he could count on any of the pitches for strikes.
“I was always comfortable going to all three of my pitches even if I was behind in the count,” Young said.
Ditlefsen said he enjoyed calling games for Young.
“It’s fun to call pitches for him because you can throw offspeed in some counts that hitters aren’t expecting,” Ditlefsen said.
“That keeps a hitter from sitting on certain pitches when you know he can throw anything for a strike.We would throw some 3-1 changeups, some 2-0 curveballs with his ability to locate pitches.”
Young said one of the main reasons he was comfortable as a team leader because he played with many of the team’s players on the Wolves’ Olympic League champion football team last fall.
“Playing football with a lot of the guys helped this year,” Young said. “I didn’t have to be a really vocal leader having already been on the field with most of the them. They looked up to how I played and I think we all thrived on seeing each other have success. It was a lot easier for them to get fired up leading by example than somebody telling them what to do all the time.”
Young also was able to play alongside his younger brother Michael, and be coached by his dad Chris, an assistant for the Wolves.
“It was extremly enjoyable and I’m going to miss playing with him, but it was also hard because he wants to butt heads with more more than anybody else,” Young said of his brother.
“It’s something Im going to miss and something I’ve really enjoyed the last two years in football and baseball.”
Young’s importance was driven home to Ditlefsen after the Wolves were eliminated by North Kitsap in the playoffs.
“It was something I had never seen before,” Ditlefsen said. “Usually it’s a sad day for the seniors as the realization their high school careers are over hits them. The kids kind of form smaller groups and say their goodbyes.
“But the whole team lined up to say goodbye to Johnnie. The kids all waited to get a hug and a handshake from him. It was such a cool, organic thing to happen. And Johnnie, he handled it like he always does with class, dignity and humility.”
Young said he was more impacted by his teammate’s gesture than the result of the game.
“That itself made me more emotional than the loss,” Young said. “All the guys showed how much they respected me. It’s hard to express emotions sometimes being so close in age, but I really appreciated that.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]