SPRING CAN’T COME soon enough on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Given the way the winter prep sports season came to an end — basketball in particular — I think we’d all prefer to move on.
Things just didn’t go very well for an overwhelming majority of the area’s nine playoff teams this year.
Outside of the Neah Bay boys and girls teams – the lone torchbearer for Peninsula hoops with a 7-5 playoff record – area teams went 3-13 following the regular season.
Each was eliminated in district or sub-district play, making this year’s number of state basketball participants (2) the lowest since 1998 (0).
Luckily, spring should cast some sunlight on the Peninsula sports scene.
There are a number of promising story lines as area teams and athletes began practicing last Monday.
Here are just a few:
The Cowboys has made a habit of going to state in softball and baseball each spring, and this year should be no different.
Chimacum returns a handful of contributors from last season’s baseball and softball teams, both of which finished in the top four at state.
That includes pitcher/outfielder Landon Cray, named the Peninsula’s baseball MVP as a freshman.
The left-hander put up a filthy stat line (.577 batting average, 37 runs scored and a 2.33 earned run average) in leading the Cowboys to a third-place finish at state.
One wonders what he’ll be able to do now that he has a year of varsity experience under his belt.
Go ahead and throw the Sequim and Port Angeles softball teams into the state mix as well.
Both return their top pitchers — Demiree Briones for the Wolves and Stacey Webb for the Roughriders — from last season’s state teams.
Port Angeles also brings back its top run scorer (senior Sade Pimentel) and Sequim perhaps the area’s most potent power hitters (Maddy Zbaraschuk and Lea Hopson).
The former scored 22 runs her junior year, while the latter each had eight home runs as sophomores.
Sequim’s Anna LaBeaume may turn out to be the best shot putter in the state, regardless of classification.
The Wolves senior was the 2A state champion last year, and her top mark (42 feet, 1 inch) was only three quarters of an inch shy of the best throw in Washington.
This was despite the fact she didn’t fully dedicate herself to track until late last season.
No doubt she will be committed this year with the prospect of becoming a two-time state champion looming.
West End soccer
Forks always has been a football town.
Yet up until a couple of years ago, it was the American variety that mattered most.
Now, after back-to-back straight 1A state tournament visits by the Spartan boys, it’s soccer that is taking over.
Wilson Avila-Luna, the Peninsula’s leading scorer last year with 23 goals, returns to anchor a Forks side that just might continue that tradition.
Fairway to heaven
Zoei Zbaraschuk is used to finishing first.
The Sequim senior golfer won every one of her Olympic League matches on the way to her second straight top 10 finish at 2A state last season.
Between her and Chimacum’s Erik Nelson (15th in the 1A boys tourney last year), the Peninsula would appear to have two legitimate shots at a state title this spring.
________Matt Schubert is the outdoors and sports columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column regularly appears on Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected]