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Posts Tagged ‘Will Thayer’

Daniel Olson had five hits Friday as Coupeville swept a doubleheader from visiting La Conner. (Photos by Morgan White)

It’s a tricky balancing game.

When you face an opponent which is obviously scuffling along, trying to build with younger, even middle-school aged athletes, there is a temptation to go beat the snot out of them.

To his credit, new Coupeville High School baseball coach Will Thayer did not do that Friday afternoon.

Yes, his Wolves swept visiting La Conner 12-2 and 21-0 in games shut down after five innings by the mercy rule, but it could have been much, much worse.

Instead, Thayer and his hardball aces put both games on ice, then did whatever was necessary to not rub La Conner’s face into the dirt.

From having his best hitters work on their bunting, instead of just swinging away, curtailing an aggressive running game once they were ahead, and getting every one of his 16 players into action, the afternoon will go down as a win in more ways than one.

With the sweep, Coupeville improves to 2-1 during this pandemic-shortened season, with six of its final seven games on the road.

First up is a trip to Darrington Tuesday to face the Loggers.

With Concrete cancelling its season due to a lack of players, Coupeville’s only remaining home game is March 30 against Mount Vernon Christian.

While Wolf fans won’t see their squad in person for almost three weeks, Friday’s sweep will leave positive memories.

CHS hurlers Cody Roberts and Scott Hilborn combined to throw a no-hitter on the afternoon, striking out 21 La Conner hitters.

Cody Roberts struck out nine hitters while working three innings.

Game 1:

The opener was actually close for the first 40 minutes or so, with Coupeville clinging to a 3-2 lead entering the bottom of the third.

Roberts struck out nine hitters through three innings on the mound, but was stung by a couple of walks and a crucial error which allowed two unearned runs to scamper home.

The Wolves plated two of their own in the bottom of the first, thanks to singles from Hawthorne Wolfe, Xavier Murdy, and Daniel Olson, with Olson’s laser beam back up the middle ripping the glove off the La Conner pitcher’s hand.

That got a burst of applause from girlfriend (and Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Famer) Lucy Sandahl, and signaled the start of a strong day for Olson, the lone Wolf senior.

Murdy came back around to loft a towering sac fly to center to stake CHS to a 3-0 lead.

Then, after the rare defensive lapse gave La Conner brief hope, the Wolves emphatically stamped out the flickering flame.

Coupeville tacked on two runs in their half of the third, with Olson chopping an RBI single which brought Jonathan Valenzuela around, before Roberts added an RBI groundout of his own.

With Hilborn taking the mound in the fourth, the sun may have been beaming down on a beautiful afternoon, but the lights went out.

The Wolf sophomore retired all six batters he faced in game one, punching out the first five on strikeouts, before ending things by getting his last hitter to pop up weakly, the ball tumbling into catcher Sage Sharp’s waiting glove.

The bottom of the fourth was an offensive bonanza for Coupeville, as it sent 10 hitters to the plate and pushed six of them across to score.

Coen Killian started things off by slicing a shot down the right field line, getting the ball to bite down in fair territory and squirt away from a madly-charging outfielder.

Sitting on second base, but just for a second or two, he quickly came around to tap home as Wolfe ripped a run-scoring single to left-center.

After that, it was a happy hit parade, as Murdy (double), Hilborn (RBI single), and Olson (two-run single) played whack-a-mole with La Conner’s pitching.

Killian and Wolfe reteamed in the bottom of the fifth, ending the game on a walk, a stolen base, and another RBI single.

 

Hawthorne Wolfe has bat, will hurt your pitchers.

Game 2:

More of the same, but a lot more.

Hilborn went the distance, tossing a perfect game, facing the minimum 15 La Conner hitters and closing things out just before darkness descended on Cow Town.

Seven Braves went down by strikeout, five by groundout, two on fly balls to left, and one on a soft liner to second base.

By contrast, Coupeville’s hitters put together a first inning offensive tutorial, scoring 12 runs and not getting an out until their 15th batter of the frame.

Wolfe, flexing his biceps and his wheels, led off with a double to straightaway center, before Murdy followed by dumping an infield single in front of the shortstop.

After that, eight of the next nine Wolves walked, with the lone exception, Roberts, reaching on an error.

That streak included RBI walks for newcomers Miles Davidson and Andrew Williams, as everyone showed a patient eye at the plate.

Capping the assault, Hilborn, Valenzuela, and Olson connected on consecutive run-scoring singles, and it looked like the inning might last until the light faded.

La Conner escaped however, as a fair amount of Wolf fans began to openly cheer for the visitors, who held their heads high and never complained or bitched as things crumbled.

Coupeville actually went scoreless in the second, despite two more hits, but then tacked on five runs in the third and another four in the fourth to set the final margin.

With Thayer using his full roster, everyone in a Wolf uniform got in on the good times.

Peyton Caveness came off the bench to wallop a pair of hits, mashing a double to left, then an RBI single to center, causing proud older sister Coral to scream louder than when her own CHS softball squad went to state.

Meanwhile young guns Zane Oldenstadt and Cole White both collected hard-hit singles, Gabe Reed scored his first run as a Wolf, and Nick Guay and Seth Woollet got quality at-bats.

Zane Oldenstadt was one of nine Wolves to have a hit on the day.

For Thayer, getting everyone in uniform on the field was the highlight of his day.

“It was great getting those other kids in there, who might not play every game,” he said. “Andrew (Williams) made some nice defensive plays, and Coen (Killian) had good at-bats.

“And our pitching looked really good today.”

Unofficially, Wolfe, Murdy, and Olson led the way, collecting five hits apiece, while Hilborn (4), Caveness (2), Valenzuela (2), White (1), Oldenstadt (1), and Killian (1) rounded out the hit parade.

As Coupeville’s players, coaches, and fans strolled to the parking lot afterwards, a nip in the air having replaced the sun of earlier, the chatter was positive.

Wolfe, still bouncing along with every step after five hours of baseball, was asked what he was doing with the rest of his Friday night.

“Gonna go play some (basket)ball!!” said the never-tired one.

And the Wolves roll on.

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New Coupeville High School varsity baseball coach Will Thayer. (Submitted photo)

Will Thayer turned a negative into a positive.

Growing up, he dreamed of being a professional baseball player, but his playing days were derailed by a high school knee injury.

Instead of moping around, Thayer moved into coaching, starting when he was 16, and continuing to this day.

Now the 2002 Oak Harbor High School grad will be pulling on a new uniform, after being named as the varsity baseball coach at Coupeville High School.

While he has CHS Athletic Director (and former Wolf baseball guru) Willie Smith’s approval, the final stamp will come when the school board approves his hire.

It’ll be Thayer’s second try at leading a Wolf diamond program, as he was originally hired last spring to helm Coupeville’s JV softball squad.

When COVID-19 shut down sports across the state, he never got a chance to coach a game, however.

If current plans hold, baseball will join other spring sports in being the first to return to play during the pandemic.

Northwest 2B/1B League AD’s have set a tentative time frame of February 22 to April 3 for a shortened, six-week season, though that will depend on the region reaching Phase 2 in Governor Jay Inslee’s latest reopening plan.

After replacing Chris Smith, who moved off-Island after the graduation of his youngest child, Thayer is ready once again to rock and roll.

It’s the logical next step for a man who has been around the game for most of his life.

“Growing up I started when I was eight, playing in North Whidbey Little League, and then played my high school baseball in Oregon until a knee injury stopped my playing days,” Thayer said.

“Growing up I wanted to be a professional baseball player,” he added. “Once I realized high school was as far as I was going to go, I knew I wanted to stay around the game.”

That led to an early entry into the coaching fraternity, and it’s a decision he has embraced.

“Once I started coaching, I realized I got the same joy as I did as a player and decided I was going to work as hard as I needed to coach at the high school level,” Thayer said.

“Being from the area, coaching for Coupeville is my way of giving back to an area I spent a lot of time playing and coaching in for so many years.”

Thayer, who is a Recreation Assistant with the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Department at NAS Whidbey, preaches that “small wins create large victories.”

He inherits a program left in a good place by Chris Smith, and will look to expand on what his predecessor accomplished.

“I am a family man, who loves sports and coaching them,” Thayer said. “As a coach, I am invested in creating a winning attitude both on and off the field.

“(Our) upcoming season’s on-field goal is to win our league title.

“Long term is to build a program the community is proud of, and looks forward to coming out and supporting every year, and to get people talking about Coupeville baseball starting with the little leaguers to the people in the community.”

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Elizabeth Bitting, seen here with Brynn Parker, is taking the reigns of the CHS cross country program. (Corinn Parker photo)

New coaches as far as the eye can see.

While it’s been almost a full year since a Coupeville High School or Middle School team has competed during the Age of Coronavirus, behind-the-scenes preparations continue.

CHS/CMS Athletic Director Willie Smith has five new coaches lined up, but the actual hires are waiting on two things — a return to play, and the approval of the school board.

Topping the list is Elizabeth Bitting, who is moving from coaching middle school track to running the high school program. At least for a year.

“With no middle school athletics at this point, other than a possible track season, Elizabeth agreed to do the high school cross country team this year,” Smith said.

“We’ll evaluate at the end of the year what level she will coach next year.”

The extremely-popularĀ Bitting, who worked with runners from both schools during the open coaching period, replaces Luke Samford, who moved out of state.

Other new coaches waiting to officially start their duties include Will Thayer, Robert Wood, Cris Matochi, and Ashley Menges.

Thayer, who was originally hired to coach JV softball last spring, only to see COVID cancel the season before it began, replaces Chris Smith as CHS head baseball coach.

Smith moved off-Island after the graduation of his youngest child.

Wood, who previously worked as an assistant coach, steps into the lead role with the CHS boys soccer program.

Kyle Nelson previously coached both boys and girls soccer, but with Coupeville’s move from 1A to 2B, both teams now play in the same season, and he chose to step away from one program.

Matochi will coach middle school volleyball, while Menges, whose unofficial hire had been previously announced, follows Chris Smith as the JV volleyball coach for the CHS spiker program.

With the proposed hirings, the lone position still open on the school district’s web site is for a CHS boys basketball JV coach — which was also previously filled by Chris Smith.

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CHS cross country coach Luke Samford, seen here with Catherine Lhamon at the state meet, has joined the school’s track and field coaching staff. (Helene Lhamon photo)

Coupeville High School has filled two of its three open coaching positions, at least unofficially.

School Athletic Director Willie Smith confirmed Thursday that he’s hired Will Thayer as the Wolf JV softball coach and Luke Samford as a CHS assistant track coach.

Both men can work with their teams when spring sports practices begin Monday, but neither hire is official until approved by the Coupeville School Board at its next meeting.

Samford now has two gigs at the school, as he is also the head coach of the Wolf cross country program.

A former NCAA D-I athlete, he coached college runners for seven years before a family move brought him to Whidbey Island.

In his first season at the helm of the harriers this fall, he helped a reborn program make great strides, with junior Catherine Lhamon qualifying for state.

Samford’s hire helps to fill a hole left by the partial departure of Lincoln Kelley, whose day job in Oak Harbor will no longer allow him to be a full-time track and field assistant.

Kelley may still help out as a volunteer, however.

Thayer, a 2002 grad of Oak Harbor High School, replaces Greg Thomas, who stepped down after last season.

He joins a Wolf staff which includes head coach Kevin McGranahan and varsity volunteer assistant Ron Wright, and will coach the JV team.

The one current open position is the Wolf JV volleyball coaching gig, after Chris Smith recently stepped down from the position.

Smith continues to hold down two other jobs at the school, as the head varsity baseball coach and assistant boys basketball coach.

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