NASELLE — The Comets, led by strong pitching, hope for a return to the state tournament, where last year they came close to reaching finals. Naselle enters the season with injury troubles, however, and they don’t expect to be at full strength until April.
Cole Dorman, only a sophomore, already has two dominant pitching seasons under his belt. He is still recovering from a knee injury and will probably return to the lineup later in the month, with a return to the mound likely in April. Donny Edwards, a second-team All-State selection last year, opens the season as the clear staff ace. He hit .333 at the plate and averaged nearly a strikeout per inning as a pitcher. Ethan Lindstrom showed talent as an eighth grader last year and, with improved control, could become a third elite pitcher. Freshman Corey Gregory is a left-handed option. Josh Townsend gives the team pitching depth.
Last year Edwards, Dorman and Lindstrom rotated between the mound and the middle infield spots, with Dorman often playing second base. However, with Dorman’s knee injury, coach Randy Lindstrom plans on putting him at the less physically-demanding first base, where he will replace the graduated Ramzi Estes. Lindstrom sees eighth grader Warren Wirkkala as a strong candidate to play second base.
With this pitching and defense, the Comets likely won’t need many runs to win. The team again tests itself against a tough schedule, as they look to improve on an 8-9 regular season.
Edwards, Dorman and Lindstrom are all stars at the plate and usually batted 1-2-3 last season. The Comets will count on growth from the many young players they return (and add) behind this core. Lindstrom is excited about his two eighth graders, Wirkkala and Jimmy Strange, whose youth baseball careers make them strong prospects.
Lindstrom has only two seniors: third baseman Jacob Scrabeck, still a bit bothered by a bad back from football season, and centerfielder Brian Smith. He plans on putting both in the middle of the lineup. Chase Haataia, who saw playing time last year as an eighth grader, is an option at third if Scrabeck’s back won’t allow him to play there. Haataia’s twin Caleb is another of four freshmen on the roster. Townsend, Gregory and Vince Fauver have chances for playing time in the outfield alongside Smith.
Carson Bergeson, a junior catcher, brings an offensive lineman’s strength to the middle of the lineup. He starts the season with a knee injury, however. Coach Lindstrom is looking at a variety of options behind the plate to start the season.
The Comets won six of their final eight games last year. A 3-1 Coastal League record got them to the playoffs, and a victory over Lopez Island sent them to State. There they beat a strong Quilcene team 5-2, then were 90 feet away from forcing extra innings in semifinals but stranded the tying run at third. With most of that team returning and reinforcements coming, the Comets will try again.