Returning talent bolsters Mariner’s prospects for 2017 | Baseball

Marauders return all but 1 starter from last season
By David Pan | Mar 08, 2017
Photo by: David Pan Mariner’s Alex Angelos fires a throw to first base during a fielding drill at Mariner High School.

The Mariner baseball team heads into the season with continuity on the field and in the dugout.

Ryan Otto, a Mariner graduate, starts his second season at the helm and with only one senior starter on last year’s team, the Marauders’ roster remains largely intact.

“Almost our full team is going to be returning players,” Otto said. “We have a couple of kids who are going to come up from JV, which is good. Virtually everyone will have been in the program, so that’s great.”

But just because everyone is back does not mean that players are going to be in the same position or have the same roles as they did in 2016.

“We’re always competing out here,” Otto said. “No job is given. We really preach the competition the whole way through.”

Among the top returners are two pitchers – Alex Angelos and Will Ozuna – both of whom saw a lot of action last season and figure prominently into the 2017 rotation.

The rest of the pitching staff is yet to be determined.

“We’re going to need people to step up,” Otto said. “We’re going to definitely call on some people that maybe didn’t pitch as much last year. We just need kids to be versatile and I think we’ve got that.”

The infield should be strong defensively with the return of Angelos, who’ll be at shortstop when he’s not pitching. Also back is junior catcher Bret Otterson, who is entering his third season on varsity.

“I’m looking for him to take a big jump this year and help us out,” Otto said.

On paper, Mariner should be a more potent team offensively, at least in terms of power, with so many returning players a year older and a year stronger.

Otto, however, is taking more of a wait-and-see approach. What he wants to see is consistency and execution.

“It’s all about just putting things together and trying to string hits together,” he said. “We’ve got to have a good approach and take what we can get … It’s really too early for me to try to really categorize us. We may have some power. We have some speed. The good thing is we’re a pretty veteran team. I think just having the right approach is the most important thing.”

Mariner likely will have up to five seniors in the starting lineup and Otto expects all the seniors to be leaders.

“It’s always good to have upperclassmen and veteran players that can set the tone and lead the other guys,” he said.

The Marauders are coming off a tough 2016 campaign in terms of wins and losses. Mariner finished last in the Wesco 4A with two league and four overall victories. The league wins were over district rival Kamiak and Lake Stevens.

The players weren’t happy with the losses but didn’t dwell on them either.

“You don’t want to lose. You can definitely be frustrated,” Otto said. “I think we did a good job of having a short memory and that’s something we talk about a lot – not getting hung up on things and staying focused on the next thing.”

Wins and losses aren’t what Otto focuses on during the season.

“I’m all about trying to improve. I’m all about continual improvement,” Otto said. “To me, we can have a game where we’re close and win. I just don’t focus on those things. I just focus on trying to get better and improving the process.

“I think if you live that way and think that way, then the wins will come.”

Mariner opens the season at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 9, at a jamboree hosted by Lake Washington at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue. The Marauders then host Chief Sealth in a non-conference game at 4 p.m., Friday, March 10. Mariner’s first league game is against Monroe at 4 p.m., Wednesday, March 29 at Mariner High School.

“We’re going to work really hard and focus on the small parts of the game,” Otto said. “We’ve got a great bunch of kids.”

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