The beginning of March also brought the start of the new season for the Mercer Island baseball team.
Mercer Island has a loaded pitching staff that will look to carry the Islanders deep into the postseason. One of the stars on the mound for the Islanders will be senior pitcher Duke Brotherton. Mercer Island head coach Dominic Woody said their pitching depth will allow them to keep their top pitchers ready for the important games later in the season.
“You’ll see programs put a heavy workload on those guys,” Woody said, “My whole goal is to make sure those guys are fresh for the back half of the year, so they’re giving us the best effort when we’re playing the most meaningful and important games of the year.”
Brotherton said their pitching depth is going to be a huge key to the team’s success.
“I definitely think we’re leading KingCo and maybe even state in pitching,” Brotherton said. “We have a ton of depth. We have relief guys, closing guys and starting guys.”
The righthander is one of three captains for the Islanders this year.
“I’m really excited, we have a ton of talent,” Brotherton said. “I think me and the other two captains (Nathan Buchan and Joey Gallagher) are going to do a good job this year along with the other natural leaders on this team.”
After graduating 11 seniors from last year’s squad, the Islanders will have new players ready to step up for the team this year. Woody said the team will have lots of juniors and seniors that have been waiting for their opportunity to play a big role.
“They have been biding their time, paying their dues and now they’re looking forward to their opportunity to get out there and make their imprint,” Woody said. “I’m excited to see what those guys have in store.”
Woody said he enjoys seeing how much players can improve from one year to the next. With players taking on bigger responsibilities this year, Woody said he expects a lot of them will thrive in their increased roles. Seniors Carson Ernst (outfield), Rory Shanks (infield), Luke Wenzel (catcher) and Nate Wenzel (infielder) are all players that Woody said will have bigger roles for the Islanders this year.
Woody said that he expects the experienced varsity players to be leaders.
“We’re going to absolutely lean on those guys who have been there and have done it and try to follow their lead,” Woody said. “That’s why every coach wants their best players to be their hardest working players and I think those guys fall right in line with that.”
The Islanders won the 3A KingCo tournament last season, but a 7-1 loss to Capital in the first round of the state tournament brought an end to their season. Woody said he wants the team to focus on their effort this season and they’ll see how far that takes them.
“It’s high school baseball and anybody can beat anybody in a one-game playoff situation,” Woody said. “That’s the challenge that it presents us and that’s what we’re going to prepare for.”
Brotherton said his goal for the season is to win a state championship in his senior season.
“The past few years we’ve made a run, but we haven’t been able to make it,” Brotherton said. “My goal is to get this squad together and go for the state championship.”
The Islanders began practice on March 2, as they prepare for the new season. Woody said the practices early in the season are about getting the rust off and getting into a baseball mindset.
“Everybody has been working in the offseason, everybody has been throwing and hitting, but nobody runs bases in the offseason,” Woody said. “Really just getting back up to game speed and tightening up those things so we’re ready to hit the ground running.”
The Islanders open the new season in Richland for a double-header against Hanford and Richland on March 14.