The Sumner High baseball team had some big questions about its starting pitching coming into the season.
Mainly: Could the staff match what it had the last four years?
“We’ve been extremely fortunate over the last few years to have great pitching with guys you could count on to deliver for us,” Sumner coach Casey Adcox said about the Spartans’ ability to produce an ace-caliber pitcher over the past five seasons. “From (Christian) Parsons to Joey (Muscarnera) and Johnny (Staley) last year, I’d say we’ve been fortunate with our pitching.”
But that fortune turned into questions early this season when the Spartans had only ideas about their staff’s potential — just not certainties.
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But after starting the season 7-1 and picking up a 3-0 shutout of Auburn Riverside on Friday, Sumner has found an answer in seniors Preston Fullerton and Eli Evers.
Sumner is tied with Bonney Lake (8-2) atop of the 3A South Puget Sound League as both teams’ league records stand at 4-0 entering the week.
Fullerton entered the week with a 3-0 personal record behind a sterling 0.82 earned run average with 18 strikeouts and just four walks. Evers struck out nine in picking up the win over Auburn Riverside and improving to 3-0 with a 1.11 ERA.
Even though the pair has talent, Adcox said, the success is rooted in the team’s philosophy.
When you have guys who can play defense, we’re going to keep the defense in the games and pitch to contact.
Sumner coach Casey Adcox
“We have a philosophy, and our pitchers have bought into it,” he said. “When you have guys who can play defense, we’re going to keep the defense in the games and pitch to contact. (Fullerton and Evers are) showing some savvy and following the game plan. (They’re) trusting in the team.”
Adcox had little trouble convincing his pitching staff to buy into the game plan at Sumner. Not when the defense is as good as the Spartans can be —especially up the middle.
I think we got the best defense, probably, in state. I’m just going to say that. That is a big statement, but it is what it is.
With shortstop Josiah Fidecaro and second baseman Noah Massey manning the middle infield, Sumner’s staff is in good hands. When Fidecaro came into the season, the plan was for the Spartans to use the senior’s athleticism out in center field. That was the plan.
But after Collin Wolf transferred to Puyallup, a vacancy at shortstop opened up.
“I actually thought I was going to play center this year, but then Collin left and someone had to step up,” Fidecaro said. “Whatever helps the team.”
The choice was made easier with the chance for Fidecaro to play opposite of Massey, one of the more sure-handed Spartans on the field.
“I think we got the best defense, probably, in state. I’m just going to say that,” Massey boasted. “That is a big statement, but it is what it is.”
So far, Massey has turned two double plays on the season, but has committed four errors, for a .750 fielding percentage. Fidecaro has a .909 fielding percentage and has turned with five double plays while committing just two errors.
Despite the six combined errors, the trust is there between the two.
“He’s my brother,” Fidecaro said of Massey.
I’ve been wanting to clutch up this season, in the big situation. I (want) to be the person to make-or-break it.
First baseman Taurus Kukahiko had the highlight of Sumner’s weekend, as the senior hammered a two-run double to left-center that turned a one-run lead over Riverside to a 3-0 cushion heading into the seventh inning.
“I thought it was (going out). I was waiting for the ball to get a little deeper and it happened,” Kukahiko said. “I’ve been wanting to clutch up this season in the big situation. I (want) to be the person to make or break it.”