Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

Scott Hilborn earned All-State honors for his play on the baseball diamond. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hawthorne Wolfe was also honored.

Wait, there’s more.

Practice has begun for the 2022-2023 school athletic year, but one final set of awards has come hurtling in at the last second to officially put a wrap on things from last year.

The Washington State Baseball Coaches Association released its All-State teams Wednesday, with two Coupeville players landing on the 1B/2B squad.

Senior Hawthorne Wolfe and junior Scott Hilborn were tabbed for their play this past spring, when they helped lead CHS to a Northwest 2B/1B League title.

Coupeville finished 13-7 overall, 11-1 in conference action, falling 3-2 in a winner-to-state, loser-out game against Friday Harbor.

Wolfe split time between the outfield and pitcher’s mound, while Hilborn played in the infield and pitched. Both were standout hitters for the Wolves.

Friday Harbor’s Nathan Posenjak and Darrington’s Jesse Stewart, both shortstop/pitchers, join Wolfe and Hilborn in representing the NWL.

Led by Coupeville’s duo, Whidbey Island had a strong showing overall.

Joshua Sterba, a pitcher/infielder from South Whidbey, was named to the 1A team, though 3A Oak Harbor, which had a strong season, was blanked.

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Coupeville High School baseball coach Will Thayer is moving to Las Vegas. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Will Thayer exits on top.

After leading the Coupeville High School baseball team to the regular season Northwest 2B/1B League title, and winning Coach of the Year honors, the diamond guru won’t be back next spring.

Instead, he’ll be livin’ life several states away, with an upcoming family move to Las Vegas in motion.

Originally hired as a CHS softball assistant coach, Thayer jumped across the road to replace baseball head coach Chris Smith after his own move off-Island.

Thayer compiled a 20-10 record in his time running the hardball program.

Thayer discusses strategy with Xavier Murdy.

Coupeville baseball went 7-3 during a pandemic-shortened 2021 season, then finished 13-7 this past spring.

The Wolves were 11-1 in NWL play in 2022, edging defending champ Friday Harbor (10-1) for the regular-season crown.

CHS fell 3-2 to the Wolverines in a winner-to-state, loser-out playoff game, denying Thayer and seniors Cody Roberts, Hawthorne Wolfe, Sage Sharp, Xavier Murdy, and Cole Hutchinson a chance to advance to the big dance.

While his tenure on the CHS bench was a relatively short one, Thayer will be remembered as a coach who was very easy to work with, and one who was always willing to answer all my questions — even the dumb ones.

I wish him and his family the best in the future.


The family move to Vegas also plucks away Thayer’s daughter, Brooklyn, a hard-working basketball player who suited up for the Coupeville JV this past winter.

Once the hardwood season ended, Brooklyn capped her freshman year by working as a manager for her dad’s baseball team.

Brooklyn Thayer

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Coupeville’s homer-happy baseball sluggers rule the diamond in ’77. (Photos courtesy Sarah Lyngra)

It’s a lil’ slice of the “good ol’ days.”

The photos above and below, which come from a series of pics being digitized by Sarah (Powell) Lyngra, capture Coupeville’s hardball giants of 1977.

They were shot by her parents, David and Beatrice Powell.

And, thanks to former Wolf great David Ford, we can ID 10 of 12 players and half the coaching staff!

While the guy with the beard in photo one is one of our mysteries, the man in the cowboy hat is Bill Losey.

Back row (l to r):

Mystery Boy #1, Craig Anderson, Byron Fellstrom, Charlie Tessaro, Mark Smith, and Greg Fellstrom.

Front row:

Davin Bailey, Mystery Boy #2, John Beasley, Scott Losey, Rusty Bailey, and Caleb Powell.

Like a movie still from the “Bad News Bears.”

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Xavier Murdy, the modern-day gold standard. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Now, it’s very likely Xavier Murdy knew what his personal stats were.

He just didn’t seem to waste much time obsessing over them.

What mattered most to the Class of 2022 grad was whether his team came out ahead in the end.

That was what earned the biggest of his grins, as he basked in the afterglow of everything he and his friends accomplished.

Like Coupeville all-timers such as Hunter Smith and Sean Toomey-Stout before him, Xavier has the kind of mentality which would allow him to be a star in any decade.

Old-school guys, whether they hail from the ’70s or the ’50s, would appreciate his utter commitment to putting team above self, to the way he works his rear off, and the way he always stops to acknowledge his fan base.

Xavier’s young cousins, and their friends and teammates, all clambered for his attention.

Like The Man himself, Keanu Reeves, does on an international basis, the lanky Wolf superstar always gave of himself, even when at work.

A smile to the stands, a high five delivered to his coach’s young sons, a hug and a conversation for his niece — a generation of Coupeville kids will head into their own athletic heyday having learned being a good dude is the way to be.

Across the past six years, and numerous teams, Xavier carved out a considerable body of work — one appreciated by coaches, teammates, fans, and even rivals.

There was football and tennis for a moment, and then the three sports he settled on.

On the soccer pitch he was a calm and composed team leader who earned First-Team All-League honors, his impact felt both as a scorer and as a guy willing to do all the dirty work to make sure teammates such as his brother Alex reached their full potential.

First to the ball, always. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

When spring rolled around, Xavier anchored the Wolf baseball team as a tough-nosed catcher who always had a good word for everyone, but also wasn’t afraid to stand in the line of fire and absorb pain while blocking the plate from incoming runners.

He swung a solid stick, was a smart base runner, and again received notice from league coaches when it came time to tally up year-end honors.

But it was on the basketball court where Xavier soared the highest.

Part of a tight-knit band of Wolf players who worked their way up a daunting hill to achieve greatness as seniors, he was the guy who did everything.

Ready to attack. (Mandi Murdy photo)

Xavier could torch the nets, three-balls droppin’ like manna from the heavens, but it wasn’t until his senior season, when Covid threw things asunder, where he really showcased his offensive skills.

He finished his prep days with 482 points, putting him #51 all-time for a program which began play in 1917, his scoring totals going up each season.

But his game was always about much more than just making the nets flip.

Xavier seemed determined to snatch every rebound in sight, come up with every loose ball, take on the toughest defensive assignment, and do all the nitty, gritty little things which are often the difference between wins and losses.

The Marauding Murdy boys delivered 32 minutes of defensive Hell, giving rival ballhandlers PTSD as Xavier and Alex forced turnover after turnover to spur the high-flying Wolf attack.

“You shall not pass!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

X faced off with guys who were taller, guys who outweighed him, but none who were as mentally and physically tough.

Sliding his wiry body into tiny gaps, he had an uncanny knack for always getting to the ball, and once the orb was on his fingers, rarely would he lose control of it.

A smart passer who often seemed to take his greatest delight in setting up others for buckets — especially if the guy slapping the ball home was his brother — Xavier is a case study in what it means to be a selfless player.

Fighting through a pandemic, with multiple Covid tests, masks, and players often yanked from the lineup at the last moment, Murdy and Co. crafted a hoops season for the ages this past winter.

The checklist is impressive.

The first league title for a CHS boys basketball team since 2002.

The first district crown since 1970.

The first trip to the state championships since 1988.

Marinating in the moment. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Xavier earned well-deserved MVP honors from Northwest 2B/1B League coaches and became the first Coupeville male hoops star to be tabbed for the All-State game in a decade-plus.

His performance at that all-star contest, where he rattled the rims for 10 points thanks to offensive rebounds, steals, and hustle plays, was vintage X.

A few of his big-name All-State teammates seemed to be preening for the cameras after every shot — even when they clanked the ball off the front of the rim.


One of the few guys on the floor playing full-out defense, taking advantage of every bit of floor time awarded, and earning respect from coaches, who, prior to the game, couldn’t have told you where Coupeville was even located on the map.

As Wolf boys basketball builds a new legacy of success, evoking the play of legends who strode the hardwood in the ’70s, Xavier provided a template for the players coming up behind him.

You might not all become a two-time CHS Male Athlete of the Year like he did, but you can strive to reach for the high bar of success he set.

Hard work isn’t always fun, but making the Coupeville gym rock again for the first time in years makes the toil and sweat worth it.

Be like X.

Play your heart out. Play for team. Play for the name on the front of the jersey.

Doing that has carried Xavier to a destination known as the Coupeville Sports Hall of Fame, and the decision to grant him entry to that hallowed digital shrine is a remarkably easy one.

After this you’ll find him hanging out at the top of the blog under the Legends tab, awaiting the likely arrival of his brother a year from now.

You make the joint classier for your presence, Xavier.

Sharing Homecoming honors with Noelle Daigneault. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

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Hawthorne Wolfe, prairie legend. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Amadeus is a great movie, one of the best to ever claim Best Picture at the Oscars.

It’s the somewhat-fictionalized tale of a real-life genius — the fast-talkin’, fast-walkin’ king of transformative musical compositions, one Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

As brought to life by Tom Hulce, who was Oscar-nominated but lost to film rival F. Murray Abraham, the film version of one of history’s legendary wild men is mesmerizing.

And why do I bring this up now, so many years after Videoville has faded into memory and I scrape out my bucks writing about prep sports instead of gushing about films?

Because, for the past seven years-plus, Hawthorne Wolfe — the most-entertaining man in prep sports — has reminded me on an almost daily basis of Mozart, or at least the version of him captured on celluloid.

Whether raking on the baseball diamond or draining three-balls on the hardwood — while launching a lot of those long-range missiles from somewhere out in the parking lot — Hawk is truly unique.

“Are you not entertained?” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Others are here to play, some to excel.

Hawthorne is here to burn the joint down, marinate in the cheers (or boos) from the gathered throng, and make dang sure you’ll remember him long after the final whistle.

Bobbing, weaving, playing to the audience — both the one in the stands and the one inside his own brain — he talks to the refs.

To other players.

To people in the stands.

And, frequently to himself, keeping a running commentary going and being his own best hype man.

It has been ever so, since Hawthorne was a floppy-haired middle school hoops hotshot who ran laps around the gym after missing a single free throw — in a game Coupeville won by double-digits.

Now, at one point, he switched up and started running backwards, just to see if his coach noticed.

Then reversed again, and was back going forward just as said coach started to say something, a devious grin on his face as Hawk relished the confusion.

A young Hawk, angling to earn some sweet, sweet cash from doing hair shampoo ads. (Pat Kelley photo)

When high school arrived, Hawthorne, channeling the shoot-first, shoot-second, shoot-always style of “Pistol” Pete Maravich, was a varsity starter from day one of his freshman season.

He never left the starting lineup, and, even with a pandemic putting a (slight) crimp in his roll, crafted one of the best runs any Coupeville hardwood player has ever achieved.

Hawthorne led the varsity in scoring as a freshman and finished just a bucket off of repeating that feat as a sophomore.

That was also the first of several moments when I witnessed him find a new maturity, as he spent his time after a season-ending playoff loss not asking about his own point totals, but instead praising the veteran players who were departing.

“A little shake, a little bake, and then I embarrass you.” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Two seasons in, with two to go, he was set up for a run at the very top of the all-time scoring chart for a CHS hoops program which was 101 years strong before he pulled on a varsity uniform.

You don’t always get what you want, though, and dealing with the reality of life has made Hawthorne (and his Class of 2022 mates) stronger for the struggle.

A gym rat who lived to put up shots, he reached a new level as a junior, raining down 21 points a night — only to be sandbagged by Covid cutting the season to 12 games.

With the pandemic receding (a bit) during his final go-round, Hawthorne lived through the best and worst of a sports world thrown asunder by nonstop virus testing and often arcane rules.

The 2021-2022 basketball season saw all but two members of the CHS varsity boys team have to sit out games at some point, with coach Brad Sherman often juggling lineups at the last moment.

Through all the confusion, though, the Wolves responded, often with a different player leading the scoring attack each night.

In this jumbled world, Hawthorne, like his teammates, adapted.

Returning from his own down time, he found a new niche as a wild man on defense.

He delivered crisp passes to open teammates and was a cheerleader for his fellow hoops stars.

All while remaining the king of chatter, the guy who danced and flexed and popped his uniform in front of the Oak Harbor student section after Coupeville savaged its big-school neighbors.

That opening-night win hailed a season for the ages, as Wolfe and the Wolves won the program’s first league title since 2002 and its first district crown since 1970, before punching a ticket to state.

Party like it’s 1970. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Coupeville was 16-0 and the only undefeated team left in 2B when it earned its first berth at the big dance since 1988, and narrow losses to powerful Kalama and Lake Roosevelt can’t dampen what this group achieved.

Hawthorne went out the only way he could, dropping 10 of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter of his final high school game.

That his final shot — a three-ball flicked skyward while he balanced on one leg — splashed through the net to give him exactly 800 career points was the exclamation point required.

Of course, he didn’t stop there, heading out to the baseball diamond where he earned league MVP honors while helping spark Coupeville to another league title.

Like Mozart before him, Hawthorne was composing new ditties to the end, taking time to talk it up with the ump between innings as he strolled back to the dugout after striking out the side in a tense late-inning game.

Everyone else was on edge.

Hawk? He was having the time of his life, as always, and wanted to make sure to share the feeling with everyone involved.

A lot of athletes have come and gone across the decade that Coupeville Sports has existed, but few, if any, have been half as entertaining as Joan McPherson’s grandson.

Hawthorne always had a story to tell, his eyebrows wiggling in delight as he let loose.

He could be sensitive — his tributes to Bennett Boyles, a teammate who lost a battle with cancer early in life, were poignant.

He could be a little cocky, but it was a fun cocky, delivered with a disarming smile, and it was balanced by his growth in maturity, both as an athlete and a person.

Most of all, he was worth the price of admission every single time out.

Win or lose, Hawthorne was going to amuse, he was going to impress, and he was going to do it in a way only he could.

If you thought there was any question as to whether he would one day gain entry into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, you haven’t been paying much attention.

Hawk was headed to the top of the blog, ready to fling the door open on the Legends tab, from the time he was in elementary school.

You can’t play favorites, they tell me.

To which I respond, yes, I most certainly can.

“The autograph line starts over there.” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

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