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Clay Reilly may have hung up his jersey, but his legend still lives large. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Clay Reilly was a gamer.

Baseball or football or basketball (the latter in his younger days), the Coupeville High School grad was one of those rare athletes who never, ever seemed to give less than his best effort.

Every game I watched him play, Reilly went down fighting until the final out, the final second ticking off the clock, regardless of the score. And I saw the majority of the games he played at CHS.

And yes, Amanda Fabrizi’s lil’ bro (in age, at least) rocked some of the most impressive hair this side of a shampoo commercial, but it was his locked-in attitude, and not his flowing locks, that we will remember him for the most.

The 2017 grad left an indelible mark on Wolf Nation, and, for that, we induct him today into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, where he joins his sister.

After this, you can find both of them up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

Where to start with Clay? At the end, I think.

His senior season of baseball, the final sport of his prep career, ended with an agonizing playoff loss at home. It was a game he personally played very well in, but he and his teammates just couldn’t get past their private school rivals.

As many of the other Wolves stood aimlessly around the dugout, or chatted with fans and friends, Reilly walked out to the fence in the deepest part of the outfield and stood alone for a bit.

I can’t tell you what all was going through his mind at the time, and, while I could guess, I wouldn’t ask, then or now.

I understand why sports reporters stick tape recorders and notebooks in athlete’s faces moments after they’ve taken season or career-ending losses. It’s part of the job and yet it’s not fair to the reporters or the athletes.

Sometimes it’s better to just let a person have room to breathe, a moment to themselves to begin to absorb everything they’ve gone through, the highs and lows of years of sweat, hard work and dedication.

While there was obviously sadness, I hope, that in that moment, and in the time since, Reilly also dwelled on the positives of his season and career.

Of all he accomplished, of all those he inspired and impressed with his ability, his drive and his commitment.

He was a standout on the diamond, a dude with a rocket for an arm, fleet feet and a dangerous bat, and he played a key role on the first CHS baseball team to win a league title after 24 years of wandering in the wilderness.

That came during his junior season when Reilly, CJ and Hunter Smith, Cole Payne and Co. swept to the crown in the Olympic League, accomplishing something no Wolf diamond squad had achieved since 1991.

While the Coupeville football team didn’t win any league titles during his run, Reilly, who rose to be a captain by his senior season, provided Wolf coaches with multiple options.

He could run, slashing through the line. He could snag passes, pulling in bombs while being blanketed. He could size up a guy and drop his rear on the turf, wherever you played him on defense.

And, maybe most memorably, Reilly could kick the ever-lovin’ snot out of the ball.

A dangerous return man on special teams, he became Coupeville’s kicker and punter in the latter stages of his career, quickly becoming one of the deadliest booters in the entire state.

Reilly nailed 20 of 21 PAT kicks during his senior year, while racking up nearly 1,200 yards as a punter. Coming in a season where the Wolf offense struggled at times to find a rhythm, his foot was often their best way of moving the ball.

One punt, in particular, will live long in the memories of Wolf fans.

CHS had sputtered out and was pinned deep in its own half of the field, when Reilly, dodging incoming defenders, let loose with an epic kick.

It sailed high, straight and true through the lightly foggy fall evening, arcing and tumbling ever so slightly, then came down behind the would-be returner, tore off a chunk of grass and took a perfect bounce, arcing towards the end zone.

With Wolf special team players in hot pursuit, the opposing team had no chance to return it, and no willingness to backpedal and chase after the rapidly-fleeing football.

By the time a Coupeville player downed the ball, it had traveled, with kick, and well-timed bounce, some 70+ yards, and remains maybe the single most awe-inspiring kick I have seen in a high school game.

Later that same season, while on the road and camped out in a rival team’s press box, I watched Reilly launch moon shot after moon shot on his kicks, earning actual ooh’s and ah’s from an opposing coach camped out a few feet away.

“Lordy, that kid is killin’ us!!,” he wailed into his head set, and then he stopped, rubbed his forehead and sighed deeply.

It was the ultimate sign of respect for one of the ultimate competitors to ever wear a Coupeville jersey.

Your prep sports career may be over, Clay, but you will always live large in our collective memory.

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Hawthorne Wolfe glides in for a bucket. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Wolfe, here streaking for home, was a key player on a Babe Ruth team which finished 2nd at state and advanced to regionals this summer.

Talent? Check.

Hard work and commitment? Check and check.

Hawthorne Wolfe is that rare young athlete who checks all the boxes, and his appearance in a Coupeville High School uniform this coming year is highly-anticipated.

On the basketball court, he’s a three ball-droppin’ terror who can also wheel and deal with the ball, while on the baseball diamond, Wolfe brings a slick glove, hot bat and fleet feet to the lineup.

During his middle school days, Wolfe also played football, but, for the moment at least, he’s stepping off the gridiron to focus on his other two sports.

While he shines in all his sporting endeavors, the fast-rising young star hails hoops as his favorite pastime.

“It’s a team sport and at times can be individual,” Wolfe explained. “It’s also fast-paced, as well as fun.”

On a CMS team where all five starters felt comfortable firing up balls from behind the three-point arc, Wolfe was the deadliest last season.

Operating like NBA stars such as Steph Curry, or future CHS teammate Mason Grove, Wolfe has already showcased an often uncanny ability to get his shot off quickly, and from any angle.

Shooting on the move, while going either direction, he often proved deadliest when putting up balls in the flow of action.

Give him time to spot up and it was even more likely to result in a taste of splash city.

The commitment factor came into play vividly after one game, when, unhappy with his performance (despite leading Coupeville to a win), he ran laps around the gym.

A slight chuckle came from one of his coaches as Wolfe, not satisfied with his initial self-administered punishment, decided to double his running.

Commitment like that carried over to many of his teammates, and the middle school hoops team was a tightly-knit, successful squad.

Now, as Wolfe and most of his teammates prepare to swap out CMS uniforms for ones which read CHS, that sense of commitment continues to burn brightly.

“I want to hopefully go to state in all sports,” Wolfe said. “And, if possible, which I think it is, win state and so on.”

Away from the court or diamond, he’s fond of playing video games and spends a fair amount of time “watching sports or going to sporting events with my dad or family.”

When he’s in uniform himself, or working to get ready, Wolfe strives to mesh his skills with his teammates, well aware a solid team can go further than just a single athlete.

“It shows that you can work with others well and you get to have fun playing sports competitively,” he said. “I think I’m a good teammate; I mean, I recommend asking some of my teammates first.”

While he always wants to keep the competitive fires raging, Wolfe is also on a mission to find proper balance.

“I would like to work on not getting frustrated at things I shouldn’t get frustrated at,” he said with a small smile.

Whether dropping in treys from long distance, or slaving away over school work, Wolfe has a deep appreciation for his support crew.

“Well, obviously my parents and grandparents and all my coaches have been great on helping me,” he said. “I can’t think of one who hasn’t.

“But when it comes to teammates, I would say Caleb Meyer, just cause me and him are always competitive,” Wolfe added. “He helps me, I help him, and we strive to be great together, whether it’s in the gym or outside.”

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After two stellar seasons at Lower Columbia College, South Whidbey grad Ricky Muzzy (right) is joining the University of Washington’s baseball squad. (Photo from Muzzy’s Facebook page)

Hopefully Ricky Muzzy remembers me when he gets to The Show.

The former South Whidbey High School standout, who is one of the rare Falcons to get a feature story here on Coupeville Sports (back in 2014), continues to move up in the baseball world.

After two stellar seasons on the diamond at Lower Columbia College, Muzzy is officially making the jump to NCAA D-1 action, joining the University of Washington baseball program.

The Huskies announced the addition of Muzzy and Connor Blair from California’s Butte College in a Monday press release.

After graduating from SWHS in 2016, Muzzy left Freeland for Longview, where he immediately became a key player for LCC teams which won titles both of his seasons.

A middle infielder who can anchor a team at shortstop or second base, Muzzy played in 74 games at LCC, piling up 21 doubles, nine triples, seven home runs and 60 RBI.

He hit .359 during his first season, and .305 as a sophomore.

 

PS — If you want to see the moment when the spotlight first landed on Muzzy, pop over and check out my old-school article on him at:

https://coupevillesports.com/2014/04/24/the-falcons-are-alright-ricky-muzzy-explodes/

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   Hawthorne Wolfe had two hits and three RBI as Coupeville Babe Ruth closed its season Friday with a loss at regionals. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Time to pack up the baseballs and sunflower seeds, toss the mitts and spikes in the car, and head home.

A very successful season ended on a slightly sad note Friday, as the Coupeville Babe Ruth baseball squad fell 12-7 to Miles City (Montana) in its final game at the 15U regional tourney in Portland.

The loss drops the Wolves to a still pretty remarkable 17-6.

Along the way, Coupeville went undefeated in regular-season play, finished second at the state tourney, then ventured to Oregon to face its stiffest competition.

The 10-team regional tourney featured teams from Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Canada. The winner advances to the World Series.

While the Wolves won’t be hanging around to play for a title this weekend, they acquitted themselves well, and Friday was a prime example.

Coupeville outhit Miles City 13-10, with eight of of its 11 players collecting at least one base-knock.

In fact, every Wolf made it safely to first base on the day, as the three players without a hit combined to walk four times.

But errors, and one bad early inning, doomed the Islanders.

Looking to close the season with a win, Coupeville scratched out two runs in the top of the first, thanks to an RBI single from Gavin Knoblich and a sac fly off the bat of Cody Roberts.

That brought around Scott Hilborn, who led off the game with a single, and Andrew Score, who walked to start off a day when he would reach base all four times he stepped to the plate.

Then, the bottom of the first hit, and everything went sideways for a bit.

Miles City racked up half its hits in the opening frame, while taking advantage of two free passes and the first two of six errors the Wolves would commit on the afternoon.

By the time Coupeville stopped the bleeding, ending the inning when third-baseman Xavier Murdy scooped up a grounder and lofted the ball into Hawthorne Wolfe’s glove at first, eight Montana runners had tapped home.

That made the rest of the afternoon a game of catch-up for the Wolves, and while they kept plugging away, they never got back closer than four runs down.

Coupeville tacked on a run in the second (a double from Sage Sharp was the big blow) and another in the third (four singles, with Wolfe picking up the RBI).

Miles City responded with two in the fourth and two in the fifth, though, stretching the lead back out before the Wolves closed the game with a seventh-inning rally.

Singles from Score, Roberts, Ashton Leland and Wolfe, who had a team-high three RBI, accounted for three runs before Coupeville ran out of outs in the game, and tournament.

Score led a remarkably-balanced lineup, collecting two hits, two walks and two runs, while Knoblich, Wolfe, Roberts and Leland all picked up a pair of base-knocks.

Sharp, Hilborn and Johnny Carlson added a hit apiece to round out the hitting attack.

Chelsea Prescott walked in both of her plate appearances, with Daniel Olson and Roberts combining for seven strikeouts while sharing pitching duties.

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Xavier Murdy piled up a hit, a walk and two runs Thursday as Coupeville Babe Ruth played at regionals in Portland. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Not all teams are created equal.

When the Coupeville Babe Ruth 15U baseball squad went to the state tourney, they had 13 players on their roster, the same boys (and one girl) who played together all season.

Now, as the Wolves fight through regionals in Portland, they have 11 in uniform, as Ulrik Wells and Drake Borden couldn’t make the trip.

Thursday’s opponent, the KWRL Centerfield Roosters, representing South Washington, are a true all-star team. The squad pulls players from Kalama, Woodland, Ridgefield and La Center, all meccas of teen sports excellence.

So, it’s not a total surprise the under-staffed Coupeville diamond dogs, despite a chippy effort, fell 14-4.

The loss drops the Wolves to 17-5 on the season, with one contest left to play.

That comes Friday afternoon, when Coupeville faces Montana in its fourth and final game in pool play.

After taking a close loss to Calgary and more lopsided defeats at the hands of Portland and KWRL, the Wolves have no hope of advancing to the semifinals portion of the 10-team tourney.

But, after picking up an unexpected run of games (it’s subbing for North Washington state champ Columbia Basin at regionals), Coupeville will return home with valuable experience from the big stage.

The Wolves fell behind early Thursday, giving up three runs in the first and six more in the second, as KWRL whacked the stuffing out of the ball.

The all-star unit racked up eight hits in just the first two frames, including a triple and a pair of doubles.

The South Washington crew finished with 13 hits before the game was called after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Coupeville plated a run in the first, another in the third, and two more in its final at-bats.

The opening Wolf run came on a nice two-out, no-one-on-base rally, as the Islanders strung together a single from Daniel Olson, a walk to Gavin Knoblich and an RBI double off the bat of Cody Roberts.

In the third, it was base-knock city, as singles from Xavier Murdy, Andrew Score and Olson brought a runner around.

Roberts was in a groove, smoking a lead-off double in the fourth for his second two bagger, but he died a lonely death on the base-paths as his teammates were unable to help him tap home.

Needing three runs to keep the game alive, Coupeville almost got there in the fifth, but came up a few inches short.

Four consecutive walks — with Murdy, Scott Hilborn (he was plunked by a wayward pitch), Score and Olson outlasting the KWRL hurler — plated one, while a sac fly from Knoblich closed out the rally.

Roberts and Olson paced the Wolves at the plate with two hits apiece, with Murdy scoring twice.

Hawthorne Wolfe, Chelsea Prescott, Ashton Leland, Sage Sharp and Johnny Carlson rounded out the active roster for Steve Hilborn’s squad.

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