By Kreylynn Johnson
The gyms are empty, and March Madness is over. Which can only mean one thing, spring Baseball season is right around the corner.
Last year three varsity starters graduated from Kayhi: Austin Erickson, Reagan Cloudy, and Casey Hendricks.
“We lost three seniors, but we gained six,” said varsity senior Mo Bullock. “They were good for us, but we won’t have a problem filling their shoes.”
This year the team is upperclassmen heavy, with a total of six returning seniors and seven returning juniors. Seniors include: Nate Fousel, Kadin Halstrom, Mo Bullock, Jacob Shay, Luke Jones, and Nathan Bonck. Juniors include: Jack Carson, Spencer Erickson, Noah King, Jordan Sader, Alec Simmons, Jackson Pool, and Trevan Scott.
“Having an older team is great because they’ve been in the program for so long. We don’t have to waste any time teaching new techniques, and they help out the underclassmen,” said varsity sophomore Michael Starr.
“Our role as upperclassmen, is to mentor the younger guys, and to make sure that they’re doing the right things,” said Bullock.
One upperclassmen that you can be sure to hear about this season is Nathan Bonck.
“He has a lot of years full of baseball experience, and playing with him is pretty cool because he passes his experience on down to us. We’ll do our best to carry on his legacy after he leaves, but we’re soaking up all we can while we’re still playing with him” said Michael Starr.
Last year Bonck was voted to the 4A All-Star team, Alaska All-State, League MVP, and the Gatorade Player of the Year for Alaska. Last season he led the Kings to a 12-3 record, and a Regional Title. He batted .489 with four home runs.
“Attention doesn’t affect what I do as a teammate,” said Bonck. “On any given day, someone on the team can and will try to outplay me, so I just try and be humble whenever awards and things of that nature come to me. I’m not a very vocal leader so I really just try to lead by example.”
The 6’5 Senior, has capitalized on his passion for baseball in many ways, one of which is by signing to play Division I Baseball at the University of Seattle next year.
“Signing was cool because it made all the hard work I’ve put in over the years, worth it,” said Bonck. “It was a significant milestone and accomplishment.”
With Nathan Bonck and his five fellow senior teammates leading the Kings for the last time, they’ve all fixed their eyes on one thing: a state championship.
“It’s a long shot but I feel that we have a team capable of it,” said Bonck. “All of our seniors have been to state twice already and have seen what it takes”.
Last year the Kayhi Kings dominated Regions in Juneau by defeating Sitka (9-3), Thunder Mountain (10-0), and Juneau (11-5), launching them to State. On June 4, they fell short to West Valley in the first round of state losing 4-0.
“Our goal this year is to win State,” said Bonck. “The beautiful thing about a single elimination tournament at State is that no team is safe”.
This year Ketchikan has decided to keep things more local, and reduce the travel schedule. In addition, you can expect to see more home series.
“It’s frustrating because our field needs some work, but traveling less will make it easier for us to stay on top of our grades,” said Starr.
The Kings kicked off the season by enjoying some fun in the sun, attending the Coach Bob Invitational in Phoenix, Arizona, March 31- April 2.
The Invitational tournament was filled with over 85 teams from across the country. The Ketchikan Kings were the only team representing the state of Alaska. They went 1-2, in their only preseason games.
Following their trip, their first home series begins this week, on Friday, April 8th against Thunder Mountain.