Implementing a new system with a young, somewhat inexperienced team: That’s the challenge new Peninsula High baseball coach Kevin Owens faces in his first season at the helm of the Seahawks program.
It’s a challenge that he’s embracing. And Owens is turning to his senior leaders for help.
Senior right-handed pitcher Kelly Polk projects to be the No. 1 starter for the Seahawks and has enjoyed Owens’ new culture to this point.
“I think it’s been great,” Polk said. “It’s nice to have some new thought processes going into the season. (Owens) emphasizes all things, but a lot of mental preparation — how mental the game of baseball really is and how that can prepare you to be successful during the season.”
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Owens is hopeful Polk will be a consistent presence for the Seahawks on the mound.
“Kelly is a calm kid,” Owens said. “He’s got good stuff — nice fastball, nice breaking ball. He seems to be under control with his mechanics. I feel pretty good about his location. He just seems like he knows what he’s doing on the mound.”
Polk’s fastball usually sits in the low to mid 80s and has topped out at 87 miles per hour, he said. He spent the offseason lifting weights, working on arm strength and stretching. Owens just wants him to keep doing what he’s been doing.
“He just tells me to hit my spots, stay consistent,” Polk said.
Peninsula went 7-15 last season and returns only four seniors to this year’s team. Owens will also look to senior second baseman Ryan Russell to provide leadership.
“He’s a mature guy and we’re just looking for him to be a leader for us day in and day out,” Owens said.
Despite a relatively young roster, Polk expects the team to compete in the Class 3A South Puget Sound League.
“My expectations are pretty high, actually,” Polk said. “I feel like we’re going to be a proactive team, ready to get out, jump on the ball and win some games.”
Owens likes the fact players are buying in to a new way of doing things.
“I think people are excited about us,” Owens said. “I think they’re developing trust and see (the coaches are) in it for the right reasons and have a fair amount of knowledge about the game and that we can help them. I think a lot of them have aspirations for (playing) college ball. We’re the type of people who can help them get there.”
Owens isn’t looking for a specific number of wins or a specific placing in the standings, but rather is expecting his team to work hard and continually improve.
“I expect us to play hard all the time and try to win all the time,” Owens said. “We’re just searching for who we are. If the guys have that mentality, we’ll find something that’s positive. Just develop the effort, develop the energy level and develop the focus that I’m looking for. Wins and losses are a result of that. I talk about all the many steps it’ll take for us to be successful.”