The Panthers baseball team finished the 2013-2014 season one win shy of bringing home the state 3A title.
Bonney Lake advanced into the post season and fell short, losing 12-0 to O’Dea in the championship game.
“We finished last year with the best run in our program’s history, losing in the state title game,” coach Mike Olson said. “It was a near-perfect finish for the class of seniors and such a cool experience for our entire program, giving our underclassmen a taste of what we hope will be a regular experience in the future.”
Olson has been coaching for 18 years and is entering his 10th season as head coach of the Panthers.
The season hasn’t started yet but Olson said during the first week, the Panthers saw a “great turnout” and held captain-led workouts.
The first pitch of the new season is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday against Decatur at home.
When looking ahead to what the season has in store for the Panthers, Olson said “we expect our team to compete day in and day out.”
He added, “the postseason is always the goal. (And) we feel it is a very realistic one this year.”
The Panthers and its rival, Sumner Spartans, are in the same South Puget Sound League 3A division this season.
When it comes to preparing for rival games, which are the final two games of the season this year scheduled for May 4 and May 5, Olson said the players don’t change their approach but the coaches do.
He said, for the players, “the Sumner game (is) always something they are geared up for and we always have a great battle.”
But for the coaches, Olson said the approach is different this season because the two are now in the same division.
“We always want to put our guys in positions that are best for our team and when it is a nonleague game sometimes you set up for maintenance and experience as much as success that day.”
The Panthers graduated a total of eight players from last year’s team.
“It is a major adjustment for our entire program,” Olson said.
He said there may be more unanswered question entering the season but talent wise, it won’t be an issue.
“It will be a matter of putting the pieces together as the year goes on to find out what our best fit will be,” he said.
Reach Sarah Wehmann at email@example.com or 360-825-2555 ext. 5060. Follow her on Twitter @swehmann_SOUND for more news, pictures and local events.