One minute the sun is shining and we’re being teased for summer, and the next minute it’s pouring down rain and heavy winds are blowing tree limbs all over the roads.
It’s spring in the Pacific Northwest.
But enough about the bipolar weather. Here are some spring sports storylines to keep track of for Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools.
Can Gig Harbor baseball return to the Class 4A state tournament?
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The Tides rode a wave of stellar pitching from then-senior Matthew Henckel (who’s now playing for the University of Oregon) and then-junior Michael Toglia all the way through the district tournament and into the Class 4A state tournament, where the Tides ended up taking third place. Pitching and defense is generally a good recipe for success in baseball, and Gig Harbor had that last season.
The biggest challenge will be replacing Henckel, who was Gig Harbor’s ace all season long. Toglia slides into the No. 1 spot, so there shouldn’t be much of a drop-off there, but who will emerge as Gig Harbor’s No. 2? Coach Pete Jansen estimates he’s got at least seven guys who should be vying for serious playing time.
It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out over the course of the season. Baseball, perhaps more than other spring sports, is all about peaking at the right time. Expect some bumps while Jansen experiments with his rotation. But once things stabilize, this projects to be a pretty good team, on paper. We’ll see if the Tides can put together another run like last year’s.
Can Peninsula soccer learn from last season’s second-half collapse?
What an up-an-down season for Peninsula. And not like a roller-coaster up-and-down, with numerous valleys and peaks. This was more like the Washington State Fair’s Extreme Scream — straight up, then straight down. Peninsula started its season 10-0, then proceeded to drop six of the last seven, finishing with an 11-6 record. It’s reasonable to question if Peninsula had simply overachieved during the first half of the season and then came back down to earth during the second half of the season. But as I watched some of the games, Peninsula seemed like a better team than it played like down the stretch.
Second-year coach Brad Scandrett is using the second-half meltdown as a teaching point to his team about being mentally tough. It’s easy to play well when nobody expects anything, but it’s more difficult to perform when you’re on the top, looking down at everyone else. Hopefully for Peninsula’s players, the lesson will be taken to heart. There’s plenty of talent on this team and the Seahawks should be able to push for a Class 3A South Puget Sound League title.
Can Gig Harbor soccer reload?
The Tides lost 17 (!!) seniors from last year’s team, but still project to be pretty darn good. So far, the Tides are off to a 2-0 start with a 3-0 win over Charles Wright and a 2-1 win over Stadium. Gig Harbor has the luxury of a deep program thanks to the fact that a lot of kids in this area play club soccer year-round. Not all programs enjoy that luxury.
Circle two games on the calendar: Thursday, March 31 at Bellarmine, and Thursday, April 28, against, guess who — yes, Bellarmine is the correct answer. The Tides and Lions seem to be almost always be at or near the top of the pecking order, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that to continue in 2016.