The Gig Harbor High School baseball team has at least six players who will play baseball at the college level next year.
Headlining the class are pitchers Avery Jones and Patrick Fredrickson, who are headed to Washington State and Minnesota, respectively. Shortstop Chad Stevens will be playing at Portland, while RJ Green, Logan Gerling and Cameron Macintosh are headed to Tacoma Community College.
It’s a large class for the Tides, who have gone through a four-year stretch of being blessed with a lot of baseball talent.
“That’s a lot, obviously,” coach Pete Jansen said. “And there are a couple other guys still looking, so there could be more than six.”
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Jansen has been fortunate to coach a lot of talent recently, including Michael Toglia, who was selected in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft and has been electric for UCLA as a freshman, Jon Burghardt, a freshman catcher at WSU, and Matthew Henckel, who will be suiting up for Gonzaga next season, among several others.
“Four, five years ago, we had two ninth grade classes come in, back to back, that were loaded with talent,” Jansen said. “And also a lot of pitching. For the last four or five years, we’ve used a plethora of good pitching. We’ve got three guys out here right now that are all No. 1 guys in Jones, Fredrickson and Gerling.”
Stevens, an elite defensive shortstop at the high school level, is one of the talented players Jansen has been able to coach in high school. Stevens will play in the West Coast League, for the Corvallis Knights this summer, before heading to Portland, joining Gig Harbor product Grant Sutton, who also played for Jansen.
“Hopefully, I’ll see some higher-level pitching, get some at bats and compete when I get to school,” Stevens said.
Stevens said Portland was a good fit for him.
“I really like the new coaches, I think they’re really turning things around,” Stevens said. “It was a good atmosphere, I wanted a school that really wanted me and I wanted a school that really saw the same level for myself, what I saw for myself growing in the future.”
Gig Harbor placed third in state in 2015, with the team led by Toglia and Henckel. This year presents another good chance for Gig Harbor to win a state title, with the drop to Class 3A and the talent remaining on the roster.
The Tides won a state title in 1997 under Jansen, in 2A. At the time, 3A was the highest classification in the state. Jansen said he believes this year’s team would stack up pretty well with the 1997 team.
“That state championship team was an impressive team in different ways,” Jansen said. “At the plate, they were really tough. Some of those guys went on to play college ball, too. It’s kind of like, ‘Would the Yankees of one year beat the Babe Ruth Yankees of another year?’ It’s kind of hard to compare it sometimes. It’d be fun if you could see it. I would say the championship team had the edge on this team offensively. This team, the pitching would have an edge over the championship team.”
It would take limited mistakes, good pitching and defense, and perhaps a little luck to win a state title. This year’s group has just as good a chance as any he’s had, Jansen said.
“This group of seniors has really good team chemistry, they’ve all been playing baseball together since they were little,” Jansen said. “Many of these guys play for Jon Fuller on the Narrows Baseball Club. He’s got a great summer program. The more kids play together as a team, the more familiar they get with each other. You kind of know what to expect from everybody. That helps you improve as a team.”
That familiarity could be the difference in the state tournament, where every team is generally a high-level opponent.
“I think what’s unique about us, we grew up playing together, we’re all really good friends off the field and we just have fun playing together,” Stevens said. “We really have a feel for playing with each other.”
Before Corvallis this summer, before they all go different ways for their collegiate careers, Stevens hopes they can win one for the hometown.
“It’d mean everything,” he said. “It’d be awesome. I feel like it would really leave our legacy.”