Local baseball is at an all-time high in the city of Puyallup.
Every time I head out to a baseball — or softball for that matter — assignment, it’s the same thing I hear everywhere I go:
The baseball in this area is (arguably) the strongest in state.
You can ask any coach from the high school to the youth levels, and they all reply the same. The truth is baseball has really grown in the Puyallup area.
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And it’s not surprising given the commitment of some of the area coaches have put into building the sport up in the area.
“When I got the job two and a half years ago, I wanted to change the culture of ER baseball. Once I sat down with (Puyallup coach) Marc (Wiese), bless his heart, he agreed: We want the city of Puyallup to be known around the state for its baseball,” said Emerald Ridge High coach Larry Marshall, who also included Rogers coach Matt Whitehead in these discussions.
That’s a good question, and I’m sure the right minds are attached to the project. But it’s something to say about the level of commitment these men have for baseball.
The focus is two-fold: By making area baseball stronger, there will be more talent created and available when they reach high school. And with more talent, the better the play on the field come game time.
That’s a win-win for everyone involved.
“Well, yeah, when the competition is better (in town), it requires everyone involved to up their game,” Wiese said. “The players know they have to show up because the other guys in the other dugout are going come to play.”
Shoot ... we even have to coach better.”
Friday’s game between Emerald Ridge and Puyallup was exactly what was envisioned when these discussions began. The game was a must-see in the area as Heritage Field was jam-packed and became a standing-room-only event with friends, family and players from all over Pierce County who came out to see the spectacle of two of the top teams in state.
Gavin Grant hit a two-out, RBI single over Jon Rice’s outstretched glove to bring in the winning run and give the Vikings a 7-6 comeback win.
“Tonight, we didn’t play Puyallup. We played the game of baseball,” Marshall said. “Before the game tonight, Marc texted me saying, ‘Hey, it’s going to have a good game tonight.’ And I texted him back that this was what we talked about years before.”
Wiese only gave a single-word reply back to Marshall’s text: “Yep.”
Ever since Mike Olson arrived at Bonney Lake High School roughly 10 years ago, it was the same thing he and Sumner coach Casey Adcox wanted with their programs.
As Sumner bounced up and down the classifications — sometimes joining Bonney Lake’s league — their games always remained at the same competitive levels. Even when the programs were down, these games became a playoff of their own.
The Sumner-Bonney Lake rivalry is one built on players adopting the philosophical ideologies of how both Olson and Adcox established within their programs.
“It’s consistency with the coaching staff that has helped Sumner maintain its success,” Adcox said. “It’s because the coaches want to be here, year after year, and by staying the message doesn’t change. The (players) hear the same thing every year.”
Consistency and reliability is equivalent to success in the game of baseball.
And that has been the point of these meetings that began over two and a half years ago. By creating more talent in and around the area, the message will become loud and clear for the state: Baseball in the city of Puyallup rules the state.
And if there are more games like the one played Friday night, who can argue against that point?