By Jeremiah Johnson
Head baseball coach
It’s the bottom of the last inning of the game, we’re up by two points … but they’ve got the bases loaded and are at the top of their line-up, with only one out. We’re facing a possible defeat if we can’t hold ‘em.
The last three at bat were walked on, and our pitcher is losing it with the next batter at a 3-0 count … walking the bases around scoring couldn’t be an option.
So I called “time out,” we’ve got to do something else to stay in this game.Willingly, Thomas Hobi comes in from center field to relieve the struggling pitcher for his second time on the mound that day ( he opened the game and pitched the first four innings).
I handed him the ball and said, “We need this, and you can do it! … Starting with a 3-0 count, and one out … TJ turned our game around – 1,2,3-strike out!!! Followed by the next batter’s quick infield shot leading to the game over third out! We had won our district playoff game, and we were bound for the tri-district playoff.
For me, it wasn’t necessarily the win (though that’s what we play for!) but it was the save. It’s about the roughest spot, for a pitcher to take on, and he pulled it off with grace. That was our real win that day. And among one of the many highlights from last year’s season.
Practice started on March 2, and we are now into our second year of our baseball program here at Lopez High School. We’ve lost a senior and a foreign exchange student from last year … but with some new freshmen blood on the field, there’s an enthusiasm that’s addictive.
I’m amazed at the amount of ball players Lopez has. We went from a small farm team in a youth league to our 80-plus players from t-ball to high school level now. That’s around half the kids on Lopez.
Watching a big brother or sister playing catch with a younger sibling can really prove how cool this movement really is. I find many of the kids wanting to play and talk baseball all year long, just yearning for the next season of play. Myself, the ball field has become my second home, and as my wife will say, our house is like Lopez baseball headquarters.
I’ve worked with all levels of play and can say they’re all having lots of fun. This year I’m looking forward to coaching the high school team again. The sun is shining brightly on us, the fields are being prepared for this season and the schedule is looking full. With teams like Concrete, Darrington, Orcas and Friday Harbor in our sights and league games versus Shoreline, Cedar Park and Lummi, we are in for a great season. With a mostly young team we will be getting creative with plays and doing a lot of basic training. Although a young team means hard work, it also means the future looks good!
I think our biggest challenge this year will be funding our program’s budget. With the school board approving our program, we have agreed to financially support it for the first two years. From uniforms, balls, WOA umpire fees, ferry costs and buses … it’s all on us and our community.
We are about half way there now for this season, but there is still a need for about $5,000. So we’re working on some new fund raising campaigns. We are hopeful for our community’s help. It feels like we’re in the wind up and you know the pitch is coming, eyes are on the ball … and we just want to hit that ball to the home run wall!!
We just need a ball.
With many of our games scheduled to be here on our home field at Lopez High School, we hope you’ll come join in supporting our Lopez team. Thank you to those that have supported us in the past and Thank you to those who will support us in our future.
Donations can be sent directly to: Lopez Island School District. Attn: Baseball team, 86 School Road, Lopez Island, WA, 98261