Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Lucero’

It’s a shot to the heart (or at least a shot to the chest protector). (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The diamond is alive once more.

Spring sports officially launched Wednesday, with Coupeville High School baseball and softball teams whacking visiting South Whidbey for season-opening victories.

As the day played out, photographers Jackie Saia and John Fisken snapped away, capturing the pics seen above and below.

Wolf 8th graders Haylee Armstrong (left) and Capri Anter get their first taste of high school ball. (Jackie Saia photo)

Aaron Lucero, international man of mystery. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

CHS baseball parents Morgan and Greg White get their side hustle on. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Gwen Gustafson owns the plate. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Teagan Calkins comes up firing. (Jackie Saia photo)

Steve Hilborn silently prays for the prairie wind to stop blowing. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Rhylin Price is the future, and the future is talented. (Jackie Saia photo)

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Coupeville’s Chelsi Stevens steps into the batter’s box at the state tourney. (Kristi Stevens photos)

The pride of Whidbey.

They fought until the final batter.

When the season started, the Central Whidbey Little League minors softball squad had just four girls with prior experience.

Jump ahead to this past weekend, and the core of that squad, joined by three players from Oak Harbor and one from Anacortes, stood tall at the state tourney in Auburn.

Now known as the Whidbey Island All-Stars, they faced off with two teams which drew players from big cities, and fell 19-4 Saturday and 34-24 Sunday (not a misprint – a real score).

The opening game pitted Whidbey against Lake City, which pulls players from 13 leagues including Everett and Marysville.

The Islanders hung tough through the first two innings, trailing just 5-2, but the big city brawlers broke the game open after that, taking advantage of walks.

While Whidbey lost, acting coach Mike Peters came away happy with how his players hustled while in the field.

“The highlights for our squad were defensive plays in this game,” he said. “The team did the little things we talk about.

“Throw to correct bases, hit the cut-offs with solid throws, and not make ‘little league errors’.”

Game two, against Glenwood Little League from Vancouver, was an offensive extravaganza which lasted four-plus hours.

Down 15-2, Whidbey roared back by dropping 12 runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second.

Running wild on the base-paths, the Islanders flustered their opponents, cutting the deficit all the way back to 15-14.

Glenwood recovered its composure, however, pushing the lead out to 34-14 — but that just lit a spark in Whidbey’s players.

“(Coach) Lark (Gustafson) and I challenged the team — they would need to get 11 runs at least to keep playing,” Peters said. “Well, the team rallied to make a run at the needed runs.”

Five straight walks got things going, before Ava Carpenter ripped a two-run single.

Following hot on her heels, Ava Lucero laid down “a perfect suicide down the first-base line to drive in another run,” before Haylee Armstrong flexed her biceps, and her wheels.

Hitting with the bases juiced, Armstrong crashed a line drive to center for a bases-clearing grand slam home run, easily the biggest blow of the day.

“Didn’t clear the fences, but with her speed she was rounding second before the other team even got to the ball,” Peters said.

Staying hot, Whidbey used a mix of walks and base-knocks from Sydney Van Dyke, Gracie Wallin, Adeline Maynes, and Carpenter to trim the final margin in half.

“You could actually see the belief in all the girls we could do this,” Peters said. “Heard a positive remark from the Glenwood manager — “Man, this team just won’t quit”.”

That’s a trait the Whidbey coaching staff, led by Aaron Lucero, preached all season.

While papa Lucero had a prior commitment which kept him from traveling with the team to Auburn, the squad was in good hands with Mike Peters, Gustafson, and Sofia Peters calling the shots.

“This is a great group of ladies who really dedicated their time to be better athletes,” Aaron Lucero said. “The parents have been fantastic and supportive of the team and program we would like to see develop.

“Our overarching theme this year has been “do the little things.” We built on that and added “win the pitch” to postseason preparation,” he added. “The team really took that to heart and pushed themselves.”

Making the jump from inexperience — not a single player had pitched prior to this season — to the big dance is a huge step on the path to continued success.

“There is no substitute for experience, and I’m proud the team developed to the point that they could represent Whidbey with pride,” Aaron Lucero said. “This is a young team and we will be back to state.

“The most important part to me as a coach and father is that all of these players have voiced their love for the sport, a desire to succeed, and are willing to put the work in to excel.

“I want this attitude to be contagious among their peers and younger players, and grow the program through action, attitudes, and of course, success.”

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The bright future of Coupeville softball. (Photos courtesy Jess Lucero)

Celebrating a season of success. And it’s not done yet.

Coupeville is coming for all your softball trophies.

Two squads will compete for state titles in the coming weeks, with the Central Whidbey Little League minors team joining the Whidbey Island All-Stars juniors in advancing to the big dance.

The minors squad, which features 10 Coupeville girls on a 14-woman roster, features players who range in age from 8-12.

The core of the team is from the original CWLL team, which boasted 16 active players, and two who attended practices. Of those, only four girls had played before this season.

With the postseason upon them, 10 Coupeville players are in playoff mode, having been joined by three others from Oak Harbor, and one from Anacortes.

Both the original team — which was coached by Aaron Lucero and Lark Gustafson, with assistance from Scott Maynes, Ana Valencia, and Sofia Peters — and the playoff squad have made huge strides.

“The girls really worked hard, were committed and had a winning season, and showed amazing growth,” Aaron Lucero said. “I couldn’t be more proud of how far they came in such a short time.”

The minors team had a chance during the season to work with older players such as CHS stars Allie and Maya Lucero, and juniors supernova Teagan Calkins, while high school coaches Kevin McGranahan and Ron Wright attended games.

“We love that community is supporting our young ones and they’re already getting to know the high school coaching staff,” said team mom Jess Lucero.

The minors squad opens the state tourney in Auburn with a tough draw, facing a District 1 team which is pulled from 13 leagues including Everett and Marysville, but Central Whidbey doesn’t back down.

“I’m confident with our ability to compete,” Aaron Lucero said. “I’m happy for the girls to have this opportunity.”


The team:

Capri Anter
Haylee Armstrong
Ava Arnold
Ava Carpenter
Emma Cushman
Ava Lucero
Adeline Maynes
Ali Powers
Bella Salter
Chelsi Stevens
Cammi Van Dyke
Sydney Van Dyke
Gracie Wallin

Sutton Zimmerman

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Coupeville Middle School track guru Jon Gabelein topped 17 other competitors to win our spring sports coaches poll. (Photo property of South Whidbey Fire/EMS)

It was a blowout.

Coupeville Middle School track coach Jon Gabelein put the hammer down midway through our 48-hour poll to decide the “Top Coach of the Spring” and never looked back.

Pulling in more than 50% of the 3,058 votes cast, he bested 17 other CHS and CMS coaches to win a highly-coveted, yet totally imaginary, award.

In somewhat of a surprise, Gabelein’s win also means middle school coaches won all three season polls this school year.

CMS cross country coach Elizabeth Bitting won in the fall, while CMS hoops coaches, and twin brothers, Dante and DeAndre Mitchell tied for top honors in the winter.

This time around, Gabelein finished with 1,676 votes, while CHS assistant baseball coach Aaron Lucero (540) held down second-place.

Rounding out the top five were CHS head softball coach Kevin McGranahan (282), CHS softball assistant Morgan Young (128), and CHS head baseball coach Chris Smith (94).

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