As the sun starts to shine again in the Pacific Northwest, the Bonney Lake Panthers baseball team prepares for its first game of the season on Saturday, March 15 against Emerald Ridge at home.
The team has been “working their tails off and have truly picked up right where (they) left off last year from a practice perspective,” coach Mike Olson said.
Olson has been coaching the Panthers since Bonney Lake High School opened starting with the 2006 season.
This will be his eighteenth year coaching, Olson started coaching when he was in college.
Olson said he got into coaching because of his love for competition, athletics and working with talented young people.
“Combine those (things) and the path seemed pretty clear for me,” he said.
Coaching baseball also seemed fitting because Olson played four years at Pacific Lutheran University as a pitcher.
Olson said he enjoys coaching because of the growth he can see in the players both on and off the field.
“A player from a few years ago told me I was like a father to him, and that will always stick with me,” he said.
Last season, the Panthers ended the season 14-12 taking fifth in state.
Olson said last year might not have been as successful as a winning record may indicate.
The Panthers losses came to state playoff teams and a majority of them were lost by either one run or in a game where they were leading, he added.
Seven starters and seven players with varsity experience are returning to the team, Olson said.
The Panthers only graduated one player from last season’s team and will lose one other player, Olson said.
“We like our chances to compete this season,” he said.
Some of Bonney Lake’s seniors have committed to continue playing baseball beyond high school.
Pitcher Kash Koltermann will attend Bellevue College, shortstop Michael Gretler will play at Oregon State University, pitcher and outfielder Taiki Green is going to University of New Mexico, third baseman and pitcher Cory Burrill has committed to Big Bend Community College and outfielder Dylan Moran will keep playing next fall at Pierce Community College.
The Panthers are “raring to go,” Olson said.
“We are thrilled with our staff, our returning players and our new class of freshmen who have joined us this season,” he added.