Prep baseball preview: Hawks eye return to state with experienced squad

Mountlake Terrace senior Layne Zuschin hopes this year’s Hawks can duplicate the success of last year’s team … but with a different conclusion; Zuschin struck out to end the 2A state championship game, a game won by the Ellensburg Bulldogs 2-1. (Photos by Doug Petrowski)

With his team down 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and a runner at third base, Mountlake Terrace Hawk Layne Zuschin stood in the batter’s box hoping to be a hero in the WIAA 2A State baseball championship game last May. Scoring teammate Ryan Cacatian from third would send the game into extra innings, where the Hawks could have a shot at making school history with their first-ever state baseball title.

But there would be no storybook ending for Terrace as Zuschin struck out, stranding Cacatian at third and giving the 2018 state championship trophy to the Ellensburg Bulldogs.

More than three months later, that moment at the plate is still fresh on the mind of Zuschin, now a senior with the Hawks.

“I still think of it today, just thinking, man, if I could have done something there we could have the ring right now,” Zuschin said.

Zuschin and his Hawk teammates are set to begin their quest for another chance to win a state title as their 2019 season begins with a pair of home games on Monday and Tuesday, March 11 and 12, at Mountlake Terrace High School.

Despite the heartbreaking way last year’s championship game ended, Zuschin does have happy memories of the Hawks’ deep run into the state tournament. He also believes that getting to the state championship game last year has given this season’s squad the confidence to make another stab at a state title.

“It was a blast — the farthest that we’ve made it,” Zuschin said about the 2018 postseason. “The attitude we had of just win games, play our ball – we played our game and it took us far. That’s the way we’re going to do it this year too.”

“It was a big learning experience and I think that knowing that we’re that close, I think we can do it again this year,” he added.

This year will mark the 20th and final season for Mountlake Terrace’s Andrew Watters (in sunglasses) at the helm of the Hawks’ baseball program.

Terrace Coach Andrew Watters — entering his 20th and final season with the program — agrees that the experience his players gained from last year will be beneficial. “There are some lessons from last year that are helpful,” he explained, “mostly it is to take care of business in the present and you never know what can happen in the end.”

The Hawks were strong defensive last year and Watters is hoping that efforts continues this season. Zuschin will be joined by fellow senior Jonathan Kumai in the middle infield — Zuschin at second and Kumai at shortstop — while senior Jesse James Martineau will be used primarily at first base.

“(Jesse) proved last year that he is one of the best defensive first basemen around,” Watters noted.

Sophomore Ethan Dunne will round out the Hawks’ infield at third base; junior Haedyn Wendt will be behind the plate catching with help from Zuschin and freshman Jacob Kaulfuss.

Underclassmen will see plenty of playing time for Terrace in the outfield this season, including junior Kasey Boe, junior Michael Sorenson, sophomore Caden Alley and sophomore Elijah Dahlman. “Our younger players are capable and talented,” Watters said.

Watters is looking at senior Dillon Gordon to anchor the all right-handed pitching staff this year. “Dillon will move into a starting role after playing a huge role as our closer last season,” Watters said. “He will be going to Edmonds CC next year and he’s worked really hard to take over as our ace.”

Helping with the pitching duties this season will be Cacatian, Martineau, Boe and Alley. “I see potential with freshmen Dominic Kim, Adison Mattix and Cody Snow to possibly help the team on the mound also,” Watters said.

After eight seniors graduated from last year’s state runner-up team, Watters cautions that matching that squad’s success this season should not be discussed right now.

“Our goals need to begin with preparing and improving so we can reach our potential,” Watters said. “We are a very different team from last year so we need to find our own identity.”

For Zuschin, putting aside how last year ended — with a strikeout in the championship game’s final at-bat —  is easier said than done; in fact, the senior would like a chance at redemption this year.

“If it comes down to it again, I would love to be in that spot,” Zuschin said.

Mountlake Terrace Hawks 2019 Baseball

Coach: Andrew Watters (20th year)

2018 record: 20-9 overall; finished 2nd in the WIAA 2A State Baseball Tournament

2019 first game: versus Arlington; Monday, Mar. 11; 4:00 p.m. at Mountlake Terrace High School

Key players: Jonathan Kumai, senior infielder; Layne Zuschin, senior infielder; Dillon Gordon, senior pitcher/infielder; Jesse James Martineau, senior pitcher/infielder; Kasey Boe, junior pitcher/outfielder

2019 schedule: click

— By Doug Petrowski

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