Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

   Mollie Bailey, who moves to high school softball this spring, is shocked to learn little league registration is already open. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It’s never too early to think about spring, apparently.

It may be damp and chilly outside on Whidbey, but you can already hear the crack of baseball and softball bats far off in the distance.

Central Whidbey Little League has kicked off registration for a new season, and, if you jump in now, you can get an early bird discount.

For more info and to register, pop over to:


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   The Big Bad (Coupeville) Wolf gets star billing on the 1956 CHS yearbook cover. (Jack Sell photos/yearbook courtesy Sandy Roberts)

   Sandy Roberts, grandfather of current Wolf three-sport star Lindsey Roberts, back when he was a bright-eyed 14-year-old freshman.

The 1955 CHS cheer squad was thin on numbers, but strong on lung power.

   Wolf hoops star Jack Elzinga. If I was alive and covering sports back then, I would have nicknamed him “The Zinger.”

   Principal, teacher, coach, class advisor — Mert Waller, father of current Whidbey News-Times Sports Editor Jim Waller, did it all in those days.

If you wanted a song, and not a cheer, this trio were who you called.

   After a four-year absence, the Wolves returned to the gridiron (and whomped Oak Harbor).

Certain years in Coupeville High School sports history stand out.

Try 1969-1970, which gave us the greatest show on Earth — or at least in Cow Town — as Jeff Stone tickled the twines for an astonishing 644 points in one season as the high-scoring Wolves became the first Whidbey Island basketball team to win a district title.

Or take a gander at 2001-2002, when the CHS girls went to state in volleyball, basketball and softball, bringing home banners in the latter two sports.

That softball run, with four wins in five games at the state tourney, losing only to eventual champ Adna, was the closest any Coupeville squad has come to winning a team state title.

But today we’re here to talk about 1955-1956.

And why is that?

Cause, thanks to Sandy Roberts, who was a bright-eyed freshman that year, I’m holding a pristine yearbook in my hand.

Roberts would go on to be an athlete and a scholar, a successful coach and a papa whose two sons and (so far) three of his grandchildren would all star for his alma mater.

These days, he’s a few years older, yet still just as bright-eyed.

Thanks to him, I now know the graduating class of ’56 was 26 students deep (14 girls, 12 boys) and helped spur a pretty decent sports year for the Wolves.

It began on the gridiron, where Coupeville returned to football after a four-year absence.

Playing under coach Mert Waller, the Wolves made their return an auspicious one, throttling Oak Harbor 24-0 behind senior QB Jerry Zylstra.

It was back to reality after that, as CHS dropped its final four games, though all were fairly close.

The Wolves fell 13-7 to Langley, 14-13 to Everett, 13-0 to Marysville and 18-6 in a rematch with pesky Langley.

All that was forgotten about as fall turned into winter, though, as Coupeville’s basketball squad roared out of the gate and never looked back.

With Waller unleashing a lineup led by senior Jack Elzinga, who topped the Wolves in scoring for a second-straight year, CHS blitzed through the regular season to a 14-3 tune.

That included a pair of wins over Oak Harbor (50-41 and 66-49) and Langley (41-33 and 46-38), and, more importantly, a sweep of La Conner (75-68 and 41-39).

While the Braves slipped away with the Northwest Tri-County League title by a whisker, Coupeville was the only conference team to hand them a loss.

Coming off their second-place league showing, the Wolves opened the district tourney with wins over Monroe (61-46) and Darrington (61-57), but were upended 65-54 by Twin City in the semis.

Coupeville then closed with a razor-thin 54-51 loss to La Conner, settling for second place.

The Wolves had come close to a district title, but, as history now tells us, were still 14 years away from making Whidbey Island history.

Somewhere a four-year-old Jeff Stone was biding his time, whispering “Soon, soon…”

Spring brought boys tennis and baseball, with the netters finishing 5-3 under the coaching of Jack Berry.

The Wolves won two of three matches against Oak Harbor, continuing a year of domination over their Northern rivals, but Friday Harbor nipped CHS for the league title.

On the diamond, Waller’s warriors had four batters top .314 at the plate (Meryl Gordon legged out five triples, while Harold Buckner smashed five doubles) to spark a 10-5 season.

This time around, the Wolves took three of four against Oak Harbor.

With ’56 being pre-Title IX, Coupeville girls did get a taste of sports, but just a taste.

There was cheer and the G.A.A. (Girls’ Athletic Association) also brought together 21 Wolves, led by President Norma Sinema and Vice President Janice Libbey, for Friday night competition in basketball, volleyball and baseball.

Those young women would one day see their daughters and granddaughters get the chance to compete in a way they were denied, but they were trailblazers for the time.

The members of the G.A.A.:

Patricia Clark
Vicky Criscuola
Barbara Hadaway
Dolores Harper
Judy Huffman
Kathy Johnson
Rocky Johnson
Hannelore Langanka
Peggy Lanphere
Janice Libbey
Arlie Lynch
Gladys Mackey
Pat Maurer
Marilu Pierce
Betty Jo Schreiber
Reva Scott
Susan Sherman
Sally Shrum
Norma Sinema
Beverly Vaughan
Marcia Vercoe

Thanks to the yearbook, I also have pristine stats for two of the four main sports, so numbers for basketball and baseball:



Player AB Hits Runs 2B 3B HR Avg.
Harold Buckner 57 20 16 5 2 1 .351
Bob Lanphere 60 21 14 1 2 .350
Jerry Zylstra 53 18 16 2 .340
Meryl Gordon 51 16 14 2 5 1 .314
Len Buckner 49 13 9 1 1 .265
John Moskeland 54 12 10 3 .222
Denny Zylstra 45 10 6 2 .222
Dick Yake 45 7 5 1 .156
Pat Clark 33 3 3 .091
Gary Hammons 19 1 5 .052
Peter Whelan 1 .000
Bill Grasser 1 1 .000
TOTALS 467 121 105 16 10 3 .259



Player Games FG FT Fouls Points Avg.
Pat Clark 21 58 71 61 187 8.9
Blaine Ghormley 20 63 41 46 167 8.4
Jack Elzinga 21 123 63 67 309 14.7
Harold Buckner 21 67 37 31 171 8.1
Jerry Zylstra 21 59 72 43 190 9.1
Doug Speers 19 9 15 19 33 1.7
John Moskeland 13 3 2 3 8 0.6
Len Buckner 13 7 2 4 16 1.2
Denny Zylstra 8 6 4 3 16 2.0
Gary Hammons 10 4 3 4 11 1.1
Meryl Gordon 6 1 2 1 0.2
Mike Criscoula 4 1
Gene Jaeger 5 1
David Vaughan 2
TOTALS 21 399 311 285 1109 52.8

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   South Whidbey High School baseball coach Tom Fallon (right) landed two of his players on the All-State team. (Shelli Trumbull photo)

No love for the Wolves, but some appreciation for Whidbey Island.

When the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association released its 2017 All-State teams Tuesday, Coupeville rival South Whidbey landed two players on the 1A squad.

Senior pitcher Will Simms and senior outfielder Connor Antich capped their prep careers with the honor.

The Falcons went 12-10 this spring while playing in the always-tough 1A/2A Cascade Conference, which included eventual 1A state runner-up Cedar Park Christian.

On a side note, South Whidbey did lose 7-4 to Coupeville when the two Island rivals faced off in a non-conference game early in the season.

Come on, you know I have to mention that!

Also named to All-State squads were several other players who the Wolves faced this season, including Klahowya’s Dylan Zuber.

The senior pitcher/second-baseman was the lone representative from the 1A Olympic League.

Four other Coupeville rivals were honored, with Jacob Richey and Elliot Puttkammer-Saxen from The Bush School making the 1A team, James Grubb of Sequim tabbed in 2A and Kai Herko of Friday Harbor named to the 2B/1B squad.

The WSBCA honored players at five levels, with 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A having their own squads. The best of 2B and 1B were combined to make a fifth team.

Breaking from tradition a bit, coaches did not name players of the year or divide the lists into First and Second Team honors.

Ty Singleton, who led King’s Way Christian to a state title, was tabbed as the 1A coach of the year.

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   Jonathan Thurston (far left) shares a laugh with teammates after a game. (Jess Lucero photos)

Life on the road.

Dane Lucero’s lil’ sister enjoys her pizza.

   A couple of guys are missing, but the core of the CHS summer squad gathers for one final pic.

And thus the season endeth.

The Coupeville High School baseball squad wrapped up its most extensive run of summer play in several years Sunday, playing a fourth, and final, game at the Battle of the Bats.

The Wolves had little luck generating offense in their swan song at Bellarmine Prep High School, falling 9-0 to the PBC Zips, a select team from Auburn.

CHS, which was playing without top players Hunter Smith and Clay Reilly, put up a strong showing over the three days of the tourney while playing elite all-star teams.

Coupeville played in three tournaments this summer, and, with the exception of Reilly, Taylor Consford and Jonathan Thurston, who all graduated in June, the roster was largely comprised of younger players still on the rise.

Getting extra work in, especially while playing as a unit, and not just a scattered player here and there on different teams, is invaluable.

The summer schedule also allowed CHS coach Chris Smith and his assistants — Mike Etzell, Aaron Lucero and Steve Hilborn — a chance to often try out different players in different positions.

Against the Zips, Coupeville had trouble getting runners on base, with just a pair of singles from Dane Lucero and three walks.

Two of those free passes came courtesy Wolves being plunked while at the plate.

The Zips tallied two runs in the first, then tacked on three in the second and another four in the third to put the game on ice early.

As the summer progressed, Coupeville saw 16 different players pop up on its roster at some point.

Three of those players — Austin Boesch, Thomas Anderson and Donny Kloewer — were Oak Harbor players who suited up as Wolves for the summer.

The rest of the CHS squad included Reilly, Nick Etzell, Consford, Smith, Matt Hilborn, Thurston, Jacob Zettle, Jake Hoagland, Gavin Knoblich, Kyle Rockwell, Joey Lippo, Lucero and Jake Pease.

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   Coupeville High School senior Jake Hoagland whacked an RBI double Saturday at the Battle of the Bats in Sumner. (John Fisken photo)

The Wolves stayed on the field a lot longer this time around.

Getting an immediate rematch with Honda Baseball at Battle of the Bats, Coupeville High School put up a much better fight Saturday than it did a day before.

While they still fell 9-4 at Sumner High School to the Bellevue select team, which boasts two former MLB players among its alumni, that was markedly better than Friday’s three-inning 15-0 loss.

This time around, the Wolves were tied 4-4 into the bottom of the fourth inning and stayed on the field until the game was called in the sixth inning due to a two-hour limit on games.

Now 1-2 on the weekend, CHS closes the tourney with a Sunday morning game at Bellarmine Prep against the PBC Zips, a select team from Seattle.

Having split two games in pool play Friday, the Wolves entered bracket play seeded #15 out of 25 teams, which set up the unexpected rematch with Honda Baseball.

After falling behind 4-0, Coupeville rallied in the top of the third, turning three hits into four runs of its own.

Gavin Knoblich started things off by eking out a walk.

The CHS sophomore moved to second on a sac bunt by Jake Pease, then scampered home when Matt Hilborn crunched an RBI double.

A walk to Joey Lippo kept things going, before Dane Lucero (a two-run single) and Jake Hoagland (an RBI double) came through with big base-knocks.

Hoagland tried to keep the fire burning extra bright, but was nailed at third while trying to stretch his hit into a triple.

While he departed the field, he took a rival with him after accidentally blowing up the guy’s ankle on the bang-bang play.

Coupeville had two more chances after its big rally, getting doubles from Thomas Anderson in the fourth and Lippo in the fifth.

Both blows turned out to be one-time shots, however, as both Wolf runners were left stranded on base.

Honda Baseball chipped away against CHS hurlers Austin Boesch, Jonathan Thurston and Hilborn, breaking through for two runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth.

The select squad, which will have a chance to play for a title in its bracket Sunday, has been in business since 1988.

There is an extensive list of players who went on to play college ball listed on the team’s web site, with its greatest claims to fame being pitchers John LeRoy and Sean White.

LeRoy had a cup of coffee with the Atlanta Braves in 1997 and can boast a MLB win on his resume, while White appeared in 105 games for the Seattle Mariners from 2007-2010.

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