Coach Mike Olson will be looking for production from his seniors as the Bonney Lake High Panthers prepare for the 2009 prep baseball season.
Last year, Bonney Lake finished 16-8, but lost to Franklin Pierce and Mount Rainier in the district tournament. The Panthers finished third in the 2007 Class 3A state tournament.
Seniors Dylan Brown and Ryan Hendricks return to give the Panthers a solid pitching combination.
“They give us the best 1-2 pitchers in the league,” said Olson, who is entering his fourth season at the helm.
The 6-foot-6 Brown, a first-team all-league pick, throws in the mid-80s. The hard-throwing left-hander signed to play with the University of Oregon next season and has also caught the attention of several professional scouts.
When not on the mound, Brown will see playing time at first base.
“He’s a smart pitcher and we’ll be depending on him a lot this season,” Olson said.
Hendricks will hold down either first and third base when not on the mound.
Another first-team all-leaguer, senior Ryan Journey, returns to the outfield. Junior Colton Nash, who was injured most of last season, will play shortstop and senior Brad Doss returns as catcher.
Opposing pitchers will have to face a trio of sluggers who are capable of delivering the long ball. Brown finished last season with seven home runs, while Journey added four. Nash can also hit deep, according to Olson.
Senior Kyle Yanusevich joins the team this season and Olson expects him to contribute.
Olson believes the Panthers’ strength is their defense and pitching, but the overall lack depth could be a weakness.
“We have a lot of young players with our six seniors,” he said.
He said his team should be aggressive on the basepaths and he anticipates putting the ball in play and utilizing the Panthers’ team speed.
“Last year there were a lot of good catchers in the league,” Olson noted. “And they all graduated. So we should be able to use our speed for extra bases.”
Olson said the South Puget Sound League 3A will be tough, figuring his crew will have to contend with Auburn Mountainview and Franklin Pierce for the title and playoff spots.
The Panthers play a jamboree Saturday in Vancouver against Skyview. They host North Thurston at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Reach Dannie Oliveaux at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-820-8209.