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Emily Burchfield is joined by Zane Bundy (top right, the '91 CHS baseball squad and Abraham Leyva.

   Hall o’ Fame inductee Emily Burchfield is joined by Zane Bundy (top right), the ’91 CHS baseball squad and Abraham Leyva.

Perseverance. Class. Skill.

Pick your adjective and they all describe the athletes who make up the 47th class to be inducted into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

Possibly the two most dynamic booters in school history, a two-sport star who overcame a horrifying injury to excel and one of the best teams in Wolf lore, it’s as solid a bunch as they come.

With that, we welcome Emily Burchfield, Zane Bundy, Abraham Leyva and the 1991 Coupeville High School baseball squad to these hallowed digital walls.

After this, you’ll find them up at the top of the blog, living under the Legends tab with their brethren.

Our first inductee, the world-traveling, brilliant Burchfield, was a star on the soccer pitch and tennis court during her time at CHS.

She was also a superb triathlon competitor, and it was at one of those events where she was hit by a speeding car, shattering her back.

Burchfield amazed the doctors and all around her by not only fighting back in record time, but healing to the extent she was able to return to the hard-court and win a district singles title.

One of the most purely talented players to rep the red and black, Emily was also one of the strongest-willed, and her skills, on and off the athletic stage, are undeniable.

These days the former Science Olympiad world-beater is a college grad who is boppin’ around the globe, but her legend still looms large in the little town she sprang from.

Our next two inductees are about to go out and make their mark on the outside world, and it’s appropriate they go into the Hall together.

Bundy and Leyva, who will graduate in June, grew up on the soccer pitch, uniting to form the most potent scoring duo in CHS boys’ soccer history.

In his three years as a Wolf, Leyva set the regular season (20) and career (45) goal-scoring records, with a ton of those set up by his running mate.

Bundy, who had to battle back through injury, was equally explosive when he had the ball on his foot, and that carried over to the football field.

Playing for the first time as a senior, the little kid who once ran wild in the aisles at Videoville, led the Wolf gridiron squad in scoring this past fall.

He was one of the top field goal booters in the state, and his booming drives drew the eyes of college coaches.

In an unexpected detour, it’s football, not soccer, which Bundy will play at the next level, having signed with Santa Barbara City College.

Rounding out today’s class is the 1991 Wolf baseball squad, a team which won a league title, breaking a decade-long dry spell for the program.

Little did they know at the time it would then be 25 more years before Coupeville would again hoist a league title banner for baseball, a feat finally accomplished by the 2016 edition.

The ’91 squad, which featured several players who were key parts of the ’90 Wolf football squad which went undefeated, went on a rampage both with the bats and the arms.

Staff ace Brad Haslam tossed a no-hitter and recorded double digits in strike outs in two-thirds of his starts, while the Wolves rolled up a 145-79 advantage in runs scored over 19 games.

Four different CHS big boppers (Haslam, Frank Marti, Jason McFadyen and Matt Cross) hit legitimate home runs, as Coupeville featured a lineup that thrived on extra-base hits.

Carving up the Northwest B League to a 9-1 tune, the Wolves went 13-6, rolling along until hitting an unexpected bump in their opening playoff game.

One out away from a win over Winlock, Coupeville couldn’t put the game away, surrendering a lead in the seventh before eventually falling 16-13 in 10 innings.

While the loss put a sour taste in a lot of mouths at the time, the achievements of that Wolf team far overshadow a bad inning or two 25 years down the road.

One of the most dominant teams in school history, in any sport, the ’91 hardball squad officially comes home to reside where they have always belonged — the Hall o’ Fame.

Inducted as a team:

Mike Rice (coach)
Cory Smith
(manager)
Eric Anderson
Shawn Ankney
Brian Barr
Troy Blouin
Todd Brown
Chris Cox
Jon Crimmins
Matt Cross
Keith Currier
Chris Frey
Brad Haslam
Frank Marti
Jason McFadyen
Jason McManigle
Jeremiah Prater
Jay Renaux
Ryan Samplawski
John Turner
Aaron Williams
Scott Wofford
Brian Wood
Scott Zustiak

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Jason McFadyen, back in his homer-hittin' CHS baseball days. (Photos courtesy the Carmen McFadyen Archives)

   Jason McFadyen, back in his homer-hittin’ CHS baseball days. (Photos courtesy the Carmen McFadyen Archives)

The end of the road for the '91 Wolf baseball squad.

The end of the road for the ’91 Wolf baseball squad.

What a difference 25 years makes.

In the gap that exists between this year’s Coupeville High School baseball squad winning a league title and the last Wolf diamond squad to do so, technology has exploded, countries have fallen (and risen), the Cold War ended and baseball players started looking like they were wearing pajamas.

But fashion trends aside (modern-day players need to pull their pants up and start showing their socks again, and that’s my rant for the day…), how do these two squads compare?

Well, from looking at score-books, the ’91 squad was a heck of a lot more dominant, for sure. At least in terms of inflicting beat-downs.

Record-wise, they’re kind of similar.

Playing in the six-team Northwest B Conference at the time, the old school Wolves went 9-1 in league play, losing only to Darrington in their finale.

By comparison, today’s squad, competing in a four-team 1A Olympic League, sits at 7-1 with one game left.

But the ’91 squad won 12 of 13 at one point, slicing through opponents on their way to finishing 13-6 after a remarkably tough playoff loss (more on that in a bit).

The current squad is 10-9 and guaranteed at least three more games, two in the playoffs, so they can tie the win total, but have already lost more games and haven’t been able to put together a streak to match the ’91ers.

What really sets the two teams apart is their offense.

While today’s team has outscored opponents 106-90, the ’91 team bopped foes to a 145-79 tune, and that’s skewed a bit by the 16 runs they gave up in their playoff loss.

The modern-day Wolves have poked out a fair amount of singles, but their big blows have been limited to doubles and an occasional triple.

In ’91, Coupeville hit the long-ball, and they hit it regularly.

As I deciphered the book and newspaper clippings from the time, I found at least four Wolves — Brad Haslam, Jason McFadyen, Matt Cross and Frank Marti — who went yard that season.

After being shut-out twice by Sequim on Opening Day, Coupeville only scored fewer than four runs in a game once the remainder of the year.

Along the way, they carved up Grace Academy for 16 runs, La Conner for 14 and 13, Winlock for 13, Sultan and Concrete for 12 apiece and Friday Harbor, Concrete and Orcas for nine in separate games.

In those 10 league games (two each against Darrington, Friday Harbor, La Conner, Orcas and Concrete) they outscored their foes by an 84-25 count.

So, through 19 games, the ’91 squad averaged 7.63 runs per game (while giving up 4.16), while the ’16 team sits at 5.58/4.74.

The two teams also differ in their pitching styles.

Senior CJ Smith is the epitome of calm, cool and collected as the staff ace this year.

The ’91 team featured some Marti and a lot of Haslam, who was a raging inferno on the hill, a scary, scary giant who flung a no-hitter and topped double digits in strikeouts in more than two-thirds of his starts.

Where this year’s team would like to differ the most from the ’91 squad, though, is in playoff success.

Back then, the Wolves were primed to make a long run, only to fall a strike short.

Coupeville opened the regional playoffs at Marysville, playing a Winlock team which carried a 9-9 mark into the game, but had won its final six games.

The Wolves, getting a big day at the plate from seniors McFadyen and Chris Frey, who combined for seven hits, charged out to a 13-6 lead heading into the seventh and final inning.

Faced with the possibility they would be playing a second game in the same day if they won the opener, Coupeville’s coaches had juggled their pitching staff to deal with inning restrictions then in force.

That kept Haslam off the mound until the team fell apart in the seventh, and, by the time he took the ball, things were getting out of control.

Having surrendered four runs thanks to a run of errors (the Wolves had nine miscues on the day), CHS clung to a 13-11 lead with two outs and two strikes.

Not yet in a flow, Haslam missed on a pitch and Winlock took advantage, hammering a two-run single up the middle to send the game to extra innings.

Once there, the Wolves bats utterly deserted them for one of the few times in their miracle run, and they fell 16-13 in 10 innings.

The loss, while painful in the moment, capped one of the most successful school years for boys sports in the 116-year history of the school.

McFadyen had quarterbacked the Wolf football team to a 9-0 mark, a league title and a home state playoff game, then moved to the basketball court and sparked CHS to the tri-district playoffs.

Talked into joining baseball at the last second, he made it three-for-three that spring, then departed along with Frey, Marti and hot-hitting Brian Barr.

As we look back at ’91, there’s also one semi-tenuous connection between the two programs.

Jon Crimmins, who was a varsity bench player as a sophomore in ’91, is now a dad, and his son Aiden, plays for the Wolf JV in 2016.

And why do I bring that up?

Because it gives me the chance to recount this story from the ’91 playoff game.

The elder Crimmins and his teammates were all given per diem money for food when they went to regionals, but he and fellow sophomore Keith Currier opted to spend most of their money on baseball cards.

“We sat around the hotel room and opened packs of cards all day. That was my playoff payoff!,” Jon Crimmins said with a laugh.

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Ethan Marx

   Ethan Marx socked a two-out, three-run double Friday, sparking Coupeville to a 10-0 win and its first baseball league title since 1991. (John Fisken photo)

One of us was smart enough to get Sylvia Hurlburt to run around and have everyone sign a line-up card to commemorate the moment. (David Svien photo)

   A little slice of autographed prairie history, thanks to Sylvia Hurlburt. (David Svien photo)

CJ Smith

   CJ Smith, seen here in an earlier game, was unflappable Friday, whiffing 10 and shutting out Port Townsend. (Fisken photo)

Now, you’re gonna think I’m making this up, but it really, truly happened.

As I pulled my hunk o’ junk car into the parking lot at the Coupeville High School baseball field Friday afternoon, the final song playing on the radio was “We are the Champions.”

Seriously. No, seriously.

As the soaring strains of Freddy Mercury poured out the window and swirled away into the suddenly gusty prairie wind, there was no doubt.

Today was gonna be historical.

Now, of course, there was an actual baseball game yet to be played, one which would prove surprisingly competitive for long enough to make local fans feel their collars tighten around their necks, but the radio gods had spoken.

And their will be done, apparently, because somewhere around 5:30 PM West coast time, having drilled Port Townsend 10-0, the Wolves were exactly that — champions … of the world.

Or, at the very least, of the 1A Olympic League, which is all the world Coupeville needs right now.

A flawless 7-0 in league play, 10-8 overall, the Wolves will hang a league championship banner in baseball for the first time since 1991.

There are two games left on the regular season schedule — a road game at Chimacum (2-5, 5-10) Monday, then the home finale against Klahowya (5-2, 14-4) Wednesday — but they are largely academic.

Win, lose or draw, Coupeville is the #1 seed out of the Olympic League and automatically advances to the double-elimination part of the district tourney May 10-14.

Two victories there and they’re off to state.

But before they could focus on that, the Wolves had to put the hammer down on a pesky RedHawks squad that is going through a season from Hell.

Win-less, and unable to play a single home game this season due to the condition of its field, Port Townsend came to Whidbey with nothing to lose, and one shot at making things seem semi-alright for a day at least.

Pull the upset, prevent Coupeville from clinching, punch a hole in the soul of Wolf Nation — that was the unspoken goal.

And, for 20 minutes or so, the RedHawks looked as good as they have looked at any point this season.

They weren’t scoring against unflappable Wolf hurler CJ Smith, but they also weren’t giving up any runs, playing spotless defense and keeping the game scoreless into the bottom of the third.

Coupeville had a shot at changing the numbers on the (suddenly functioning) scoreboard in the first, when Hunter Smith slapped a lead-off single to right, then took two bags on a sac bunt by his big brother.

But he died at third, metaphorically speaking of course, when Cole Payne’s towering pop fly was snagged and then the RedHawk first baseman made an eye-popping mid-air snag on a laser off of the bat of Julian Welling.

Port Townsend had runners on in each of the first three innings, but CJ Smith, who may be the calmest Wolf to ever toe the pitching rubber at CHS, stranded them each time.

His pitches popping in Payne’s glove, he punched-out six RedHawks on strikeouts, while lil’ bro Hunter backed him up with the defensive play of the game.

With a runner at first and no outs in the top of the third, Hunter Smith went so deep into the hole at short he could practically touch the fence behind third base, snared a hot shot, and, spinning like a ballet dancer, fired to second to nail the runner by less than a step.

Not content to stop there, Hunter then went out in the bottom of the inning and created the only run his brother would need to win.

With two outs and no one on base, the junior Smith beat out an infield single, stole second, stole third, then scampered home when his quicksilver moves flustered the RedHawk catcher into skipping his throw to third into left field.

Port Townsend, to its credit, didn’t collapse, and juiced the bags in the fourth, even after Wolf third baseman Matt Hilborn made a stunning throw to nail the lead-off hitter.

All eyes turned towards CJ Smith, who was so calm, he looked like he was asleep on the mound.

Now, it is possible emotions roil deeply through the senior, that he is a bubbling cauldron of anxiety. If he is, he has hidden it beautifully for three years.

Boom. Strike one. Slight movement of the eyes.

Boom. Strike two. Slight twitch of the mouth.

Boom. Strike three. Inning over.

The faintest whisper of a smile, 99.4% hidden by keeping his head down, cap tilted against what was now steady gusts of wind rumbling across the prairie.

Having escaped from the precipice, Coupeville decided it was time to stop giving its fans a collective coronary and truly embrace its destiny.

Cue the Hollywood ending.

A one-run lead, bases loaded, two outs in the bottom of the fourth and your #8 hitter at the plate.

Pinch-runner Ty Eck bounced on third base (he was running for Welling, who cracked a one-out single to right), Kory Score glared at the pitcher from second (he reached on an error) and Clay Reilly (a walk) leisurely drifted off of first.

Enter Ethan Marx and exit the final hope for the RedHawks.

Launching a bomb to straight-away center field that sliced through the wind gusts, then rode one sideways at an opportune moment, the junior cleared the bases and etched his name into Wolf lore.

With some room to breathe at 4-0 (though his demeanor never changed) CJ Smith was brutal in the top of the fifth, inducing a grounder to Score at first, then cracking off K’s #9 and #10.

The bottom of the fifth perfectly encapsulated two seasons going in different directions.

Needing six runs to force an early end to the game via the 10-run mercy rule, Coupeville sent nine batters to the plate and every one of them reached base safely.

Hunter Smith’s third single of the game launched things, Payne’s two-run single up the gut sealed things, and yet the runs kept coming.

An RBI single from Score made it 7-0, a hard shot off a glove from Reilly plated #8, an infield single from Dane Lucero that burrowed into the grass and refused to come back out sent #9 home and then 25 years of championship drought ended on one swing.

Hilborn, a mere freshman, swatted a chopper into the gap between second and first, sending Gabe Wynn barreling across home and the dream was a reality.

As the Wolves stormed the field, as their fans celebrated in the stands, as news began to flash across town and then across the USA, thanks to our modern digital world, the prairie breeze continued to blow.

And, if you listened carefully, you could hear it written on the wind.

“We are the champions … of the world!!”

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Win for your school. Win for your teammates. Win for your self. (David Svien photos)

   Win for your school. Win for your teammates. Win for yourself. (David Svien photos)

The last time a Coupeville High School baseball team won a league title. PS -- How many of those phone numbers are still good?

   The last time a Coupeville High School baseball team won a league title. PS — How many of those phone numbers do we think are still good?

Make them fear the Wolves. Make them Bow Down to Cow Town.

Make them fear the Wolves. Make them Bow Down to Cow Town.

Today is about today, but it’s also about yesterday and tomorrow.

When the Coupeville High School baseball team takes its home field this afternoon to face Port Townsend (4 PM), the Wolves have a rare opportunity.

Coupeville enters the day at 6-0 in the 1A Olympic League, 9-8 overall and ranked #9 in the most recent state poll.

The RedHawks, who have had to play their entire season on the road thanks to problems with their home field, are 0-6, 0-13.

Go out there, put the hammer down, and the Wolves will bring their school its first baseball league title since 1991.

25 years is a long time.

Fashion changes. Music changes. Hairstyles change.

The entire world, from how we watch movies to the fact you’re reading this on a computer, phone or some other newfangled device never thought of in ’91 is proof of that.

The oldest players on this Coupeville squad weren’t even a twinkle in their parents eyes the last time something like this happened on the prairie.

And when it does (and I said WHEN and not if), these Wolves, from CJ Smith to Jake Hoagland, from Cole Payne to Clay Reilly, and all of their teammates and coaches, will freeze a moment in time.

Forever.

I know, when you’re 15, 16, 17, 18, everything is about today and not down the road, and little I say now is likely to sink in. I get it.

These Wolf players will celebrate in the moment, as Coupeville’s girls basketball and girls and boys tennis teams have done over the past two years when they won titles. It will be big for them.

But it will be bigger later. I promise.

A decade down the road, 25 years down the road, when you’re pushing 30 and coming back for your 10-year reunion or when you’re crawling into your early 40’s, it will mean so much more.

When you return to the CHS gym and look up on the wall and show your own children the banner, you have no clue right now how much that is going to matter.

Time will change all of you.

Some will achieve great things, some may fall hard. Hopefully more of the former, less of the latter.

But you win today, and this moment will truly live for all time.

On the gym wall, and in your own hearts and minds.

And yes, I get the argument that sports are not everything, that how you do in the classroom right now will likely affect your life more than whether you get a bunt down or throw out a runner at home.

They are semi-valid arguments, and I understand why some people won’t want you to spend the rest of your life marinating in your “glory days.”

And I would tell you to tell those people to blow it out their rears.

You have worked hard, as individuals, as a team, to get to this moment. It should be treasured.

It is not the final destination, certainly, and there are many prizes ahead waiting to be vied for, and won.

But today can be, should be, a moment you will have forever.

Play with confidence, embrace the spotlight, carry yourself with pride. Execute, execute, execute. Win the day and step into history.

What you are about to achieve is something relatively few teams in Coupeville have, in baseball or any sport.

Live out the words of The Sandlot (another thing from before you were all born…).

“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die.”

Walk on that field this afternoon heroes. Walk off legends.

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Marc

   First-year CHS coach Marc Aparicio is one win away from getting his alma mater its first baseball league title since 1991. (John Fisken photos)

Hunter Smith, seen here making a play

   Hunter Smith, seen here making a play in an earlier game, was superb on the mound and at the plate in a 10-2 win at Klahowya Wednesday.

The miracle ride continues.

Every pundit, every poll, every prognosticator said the same thing, and, so far, they’ve all been flat-out wrong.

Klahowya, the defending 1A Olympic League baseball champs, prepared for league play with a tough schedule full of 2A schools and did really well, earning a ranking as high as #3 in the state polls.

Then, they stepped right into the path of an oncoming train called the Wolf Express.

Exploding for seven runs in the sixth inning Wednesday, Coupeville ran away with a 10-2 win on the road and moved within a step of not only dethroning the Eagles, but winning its first baseball league title since 1991.

The Wolves have now taken two straight from Klahowya and sit at 6-0 in league play, 9-8 overall.

That gives them a two-game lead with three to play over the Eagles (4-2, 13-4), while Chimacum (2-4, 5-9) and Port Townsend (0-6, 0-13) root around down in the cellar.

Since it now owns the tiebreaker over Klahowya, Coupeville needs just one win in its final three games to clinch the title and an automatic berth in the double-elimination portion of the district playoffs.

First up is Port Townsend, which visits Whidbey Friday, with the first pitch at 4 PM.

After that comes a trip to Chimacum Monday, May 2 and a home regular-season finale against Klahowya Thursday, May 5.

The Wolves have put themselves in position to do what no CHS diamond squad has in 25 years thanks to one huge reason — their ability to get something out of everyone in the lineup.

“Every player performed when called upon, and we switched things up quite a bit. Next man up!!,” said first-year Coupeville coach Marc Aparicio.

“The highlight was “team.” Great job had by all of the kids,” he added. “Very proud of them – still have things to work on, but a great win. The kids are on fire!!!”

Coupeville used 14 players in the game, with eight of them scoring.

Sophomore Hunter Smith and freshman Matt Hilborn, who combined for the game’s first run, both crossed the plate twice to pace the attack.

With the game scoreless in the third, Coupeville finally broke through, thanks to some rough defense by the suddenly-rattled Eagles.

After only having one runner in the first two innings, the Wolves got Hilborn aboard on a one-out error by Klahowya’s third-baseman, then brought him around when Smith’s bunt was thrown into the outfield by the Eagle pitcher.

Klahowya countered with its own scratched-out run in the third, but after that could get next to nothing off Smith, who was superb.

Getting the nod on the mound after older brother CJ won the first meeting between the two squads, Hunter, AKA “Captain Cool,” whiffed five Eagles and was rarely in danger.

With Aparicio playing the mad scientist in the dugout, Coupeville took the lead with two runs in the top of the fifth.

Freshman pinch-hitter Dane Lucero eked out a crucial walk, then was replaced with sophomore speedster Nick Etzell, who used “some smart base running” to bust the tie.

“After that small switch our team was on fire,” Aparicio said. “Lots of stolen bases, we had great timely bunts and great base running overall.”

Up 3-1, the Wolves blew the game wide open with a 12-batter, seven-run assault in the top of the sixth.

Hunter Smith, CJ Smith, Kory Score, Gabe Wynn, Clay Reilly, Ty Eck and Hilborn all stamped on home as Coupeville put together its best offensive stretch of the season under the biggest spotlight.

With the game largely on ice, the Wolves went to Julian Welling to slam the door, and the sophomore didn’t fail, working a little of the ol’ Mariano Rivera magic in the seventh.

Perhaps appropriately, the game ended on an unassisted double play from Hunter Smith, the perfect cap to a remarkable game from the rising star.

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