PORT ANGELES — In a squeeze play of a different sort, Port Angeles High School head baseball coach Casey Dietz has stepped down, with the Port Angeles School Board expected to accept his resignation at Thursday night’s board meeting.
Formerly an assistant coach with the Roughriders under previous head coach Karl Myers, Dietz took over the position in late 2019, inheriting a talent-laden lineup with state-championship aspirations in 2020.
COVID-19 derailed those plans, however, canceling the entire 2020 season and condensing the 2021 season.
Dietz’ Riders fared well overall despite graduating a host of talent after 2020 and 2021, posting a 23-15 overall mark, 18-9 in Olympic League play and 3-2 overall against league rival North Kitsap.
The 2022 squad was jam-packed with youth, and predictably stuttered in the early going in a crowded Olympic League playoff chase. But the Riders rallied, beating No. 1-ranked North Kitsap and winning three consecutive loser-out district playoff games before running out of gas and falling one game shy of a state tournament berth.
Dietz offered a statement on his resignation.
“I resigned because things have changed and I felt it was the right time,” Dietz said. “In looking back at my time, I am going to miss the kids, miss spending time with the coaching staff and the kids. I could not be more appreciative of those who stood by me and supported me throughout my growth and development both on and off the baseball field.”
District Athletic Director Dwayne Johnson declined to comment on what led to Dietz’ resignation, or if Dietz was asked to resign voluntarily instead of being fired.
“I would like to thank Casey for his service to the athletes at Port Angeles,” Johnson said.
Dietz said his teams prided themselves on pitching and defense.
“We stressed the importance of taking care of the baseball, improving fundamental skills and being able to prevent runs,” Dietz said. “Offensively, we tried to adapt our game plan to the team’s strengths, and I don’t think we overly relied on any one aspect. We tried to put the kids into the best position for success.”
He looked back on imparting a little-appreciated piece of the game to his players.
“I’ll look back fondly on our coaching staff’s ability to teach bunting,” Dietz said. “It’s not taught so much anymore, it’s considered boring. But to do it shows an ability for the player to put the team ahead of self. So I give credit to our coaching staff and our kids for buying into what we taught and being selfless.”
Dietz, a physical education teacher at Jefferson and Roosevelt Elementary schools, recently celebrated the birth of his first child, Elizabeth Catherine, with his wife Kahle, a sixth-grade teacher at Hamilton Elementary and a volleyball assistant for Port Angeles last fall.
“We decided this is where we want to be to raise our family,” Dietz said. “We love the area, love the people here and couldn’t imagine our lives anywhere else.”
Dietz said he would focus on his dad duties for the foreseeable future before potentially getting back into coaching.
“I’m going to take time off for now, but coaching is obviously something I am extremely passionate about and sharing that love of sports. But right now, I’m excited about being a dad.”
Riders on Hawks’ turf
The Port Angeles football team will take on North Kitsap in the Lumen Field Showcase, a full day of high school football at the Seattle Seahawks’ Lumen Field on Sept. 17.
The contest will kick off at 6:15 p.m.
There are three pricing levels for tickets: $43.95 for the first four rows, $28.95 for general admission and $14.95 for student tickets with ID.
To buy tickets, visit callplaybook.com/PortAngeles.
One other contest has been announced with more expected to follow: Tenino will face Klahowya at 12:15 p.m.
Port Angeles will open the season with home games against Blaine on Sept. 2 and Anacortes on Sept. 9.
Horton new girls coach
Daniel Horton, a Port Angeles High School alumnus with ample experience as an assistant coach across a number of boys and girls sports, has been selected as the new Roughriders head girls soccer coach.
Johnson confirmed the hire on Thursday.
Horton has been a longtime assistant with the Port Angeles girls basketball, football, softball and baseball teams.
The district also is advertising for a girls soccer assistant coaching position.
Fall sports practices for every sport except football begin Aug. 22.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at [email protected]