In the last decade plus of Class 4A South Puget Sound League baseball, no team has been able to knock the Puyallup High baseball team from its perch at the top of the league.
City rivals Rogers and Emerald Ridge haven’t been able to topple the giants, and neither could Federal Way, Todd Beamer, Bethel or Spanaway Lake when they were all still associated with the SPSL.
It has seemed like no team could displace the Vikings or remove their league crown. In the words of Puyallup coach Marc Wiese: the path to a league title comes through the Vikings.
“The league is going to have to go through us,” Wiese said.
Next up on the list of teams trying to take down Puyallup’s crown are four teams that could give the Vikings a run for the money in Bellarmine Prep, Olympia, Sumner and South Kitsap.
Those last two teams especially will be challenging for Puyallup. Sumner reached the 3A final four in last year’s playoffs, and South Kitsap last won the 4A state championship in 2015, a year after losing to Puyallup in the 2014 state finals.
“There are a lot of good teams in our league, but I feel confident with the guys who are behind me,” said Michael Newstrom, a left-handed starter and Washington State signee. “It’s really a culture of winning. The players coming in know that the expectations is a league title, and because of that, I think players rise up to that commitment. They want to continue the success that Puyallup baseball has had.”
Newstrom, along with Michael Spellacy, both came to Puyallup from different programs, where each experienced what baseball life was like away from this valley school.
Newstrom came from Cascade Christian, a Class 1A program and school that always finds talent despite its lack in classification and student body. And Spellacy came from Battle Ground, a 4A program out of the Greater St. Helens League that has had its ups and downs over the years.
Both players came from solid programs, but there is something different with how things are run at Puyallup under coach Wiese’s watch.
“I had some great coaches at Battle Ground, great mentors, but once I came to Puyallup, the expectations were higher,” said Spellacy, who signed with Gonzaga University. “The attitude isn’t to compete or be competitive with teams — it’s to win and win league.”
And to throw their hats in the playoff ring as Puyallup attempts to return to the 4A state title game for the first time since winning it three years ago.
That culture is the reason for Puyallup’s success. It’s an understanding by players coming into the program either from other leagues or simply moving up from junior varsity.
The plan at Puyallup is to work toward the goal of capturing another SPSL league crown while adding a state title to the mix.
“All I ask of the guys is to just compete. At the end of the day, if you put it all out there and compete, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Wiese said. “And that’s what I love about these guys. They’re always ready to go out and work their butts off and compete.”
If the Vikings have it their way, their level of intensity will add another SPSL league title in another year of dominance that spanned a decade plus.