New coach takes over experienced Kamiak squad | BaseballKnights bring back talented senior class
The Kamiak baseball team has undergone some major changes for 2017, though many familiar faces are returning on the field.
Kevin Agnew, who coached the Knights’ junior varsity squad last season, takes over as the new head coach from former coach Frank Nickerson, who passed away last July following a long battle with cancer.
Agnew, a history and English teacher at Kamiak High School, previously was the head baseball coach at Eastlake High School in Sammamish for five years. He has been an assistant football coach with the Knights the last two seasons.
“Obviously, it was a pretty challenging situation,” Agnew said of Nickerson’s final season at the helm of the Kamiak program.
Nickerson’s health had been up and down prior to the 2016 season, but he was able to finish out the year and coach his son, Dominic, who graduated later that spring.
“He did a great job,” Agnew said of his predecessor. “The kids stepped up and made things run smoothly.”
The baseball team plans to honor the memory of Nickerson and former player Jake Long, who was one of three Kamiak High School graduates shot and killed at a house party in July 2016, prior to the Knights’ home opener, which is scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 14 at Kamiak High School.
“We’re going to celebrate the program and their contributions to the program,” Agnew said.
Even though he coached the JV team last year, Agnew is still getting to know his players. One of the new assistant coaches is Terry Agnew, Kevin’s father and a longtime football and baseball coach at Woodinville High School.
The Knights bring back a large senior class with significant experience throughout the lineup. The top returner is senior second baseman Ty Crosby, who earned first-team, all-Wesco 4A recognition last season.
“He had a real good junior year,” Agnew said.
Also back are the Knights’ top two pitchers – junior righthander Morgan White and senior lefthander Andrew Sonnichsen.
The makeup of the rest of the staff is still a work in progress, according to Agnew.
Senior Isaiah Shigematsu is a returning starter at catcher and a player Agnew knows well from football. Agnew coached Shigematsu, a defensive lineman.
“He’s a great leader,” Agnew said. “Obviously, being in that position, he’s the quarterback of your defense.”
Senior Chris Lambert anchors the outfield. Lambert shifts from left to center field.
“It’s a good spot for him to kind of control the outfield,” Agnew said.
Other key returners include seniors Josh Silva and Justin Park. Junior Luke Doton is moving up from JV and could figure into the pitching mix.
The Knights have no shortage of leaders.
“The seniors are leading in their own way. Some talk more. Some lead by example,” Agnew said. “We’re open to new things from them. The way they’ve led and their attitude has been great so far. I’ve enjoyed watching these guys. They have a real blue-collar, hard-nosed mentality.”
For most of the Knights, the first week of tryouts and practices was an eye-opening experience. The players woke up at 6 a.m. for conditioning work.
“It set the tone of how hard we want to work and how much we sacrifice for our teammates,” Agnew said. “We’re developing toughness. We’re developing accountability and loyalty to what we’re trying to do.”
For Agnew, the emphasis is on what’s best for the team.
“We’re starting a team-first mentality,” he said. “Team is what kind of sums up my entire coaching philosophy.”
Kamiak finished seventh in the league last season and has missed the playoffs the last two years.
“Getting into the Wesco tournament definitely is our goal,” Agnew said. “Everybody is so new to one another. Our goal is just to come together as a team and work really hard. If we do things and come together at the right time, we’ll get into that tournament.”