Often in sportswriting, teams are singled out for being young (and therefore at a disadvantage). But that’s not the case for these 2017 Woodinville Falcons. This year’s ball club is teeming with grizzled veterans.
“We’re really old this year,” Woodinville manager Alan Dillman said. “Twelve seniors on the team, and a handful of juniors and no freshmen or sophomores. We’re excited about the year, with so many guys coming back. Hopefully we can build on what we did last year and make another run.”
Last year marked the second time in three seasons that Woodinville made the State’s Final 4 in Pasco. And things look bright with returnees Drew Barlow (3B), Matt Zoba (SS), Hunter Cook (2B) and Mack Minnehan (C), among many others.
“There hasn’t been a lot of teaching this year, but mostly a review of what we do,” Dillman said. “It’s not that what we do is unique, but it’s a matter of getting everybody on the same page so they work together as one unit.”
The outlook is just as bright on the mound. Last year’s most pleasant surprise was starting pitcher Bryce Coyne. The righthander impressed his manager by having a banner season.
“His strong point is just staying within himself,” Dillman said. “He’s always been a guy that doesn’t necessarily throw harder than everyone else as a power pitcher. And he’s okay with that. He just knew he needed to locate his pitches and move the ball around and change speeds. And that’s what made him successful. He has added a little velocity this year.”
Dillman also cited Wyatt Mosher and Reece Averill as pitchers expected to get plenty of work.
“Our game plan is always the same,” Dillman said. “We want to throw strikes and we want to play great defense. If we can do those things, we will manufacture some runs and win some games.”
One big change that fans will notice this year is the renovation that took place to Falcon Field. The playing surface used to have a turf infield and a grass outfield. But no more. It’s now 100 percent turf.
“Our outfielders can’t let balls get by them now,” Dillman said. “Because [line drives] are going to the fence if the ball gets by them. So we’ve changed our approach defensively a little bit in the outfield. Offensively, we run pretty well, so this could turn out to be a plus for us.”
The new outfield also has yellow soccer field lines running across it.
“That’s quite the shock to see,” Dillman said. “Seeing the lines is crazy, everybody comments on it.”
If the Falcons are to return to Pasco, they’ll need to navigate the challenging terrain of the KingCo 4A Conference.
“Mount Si was really good last year and they’ll be quite good this year,” Dillman said. “You have the [defending] State champion in Skyline, and they’ll be good. The one thing about our league is that every team is pretty good. You’ve got a battle on your hands every night.”
Woodinville opens its season this Tuesday at home against Marysville-Pilchuck at 7 p.m.
For the season schedule, please go to the Woodinville page at kingcoathletics.com.