ILWACO — After a winless season three years ago, the Ilwaco Fishermen baseball team has continued to get better. They won five games and made the playoffs in 2015, then won eight games last year, along with another playoff visit.
“We’re making progress. That’s our goal. To improve upon last year,” said head coach Dave Tapio last week.
The Fishermen return the majority of their players from last season, with 13 students out for the team.
“We’ve got a lot of returning players,” Tapio explained. “Really only three new ones.”
Among those are a foursome of pitchers with experience on the mound in Zac Tapio (who will share time on both the baseball and boys golf teams this spring), Landon Frank, Reese Tynkila and Trenton Cox. Jack Odneal will also see some time on the mound when he returns from a wrist injury he sustained at the state wrestling tournament last month.
At first base, sophomore Chris Wood will be taking over, while remaining the back-up catcher behind junior Brandon McMullen.
“We play doubleheaders and they’re long. So early in the season we’ll see how the guys do and keep’em healthy,” said Tapio.
The Fishermen have been hampered some by the wet weather in the early going, having to practice in the Hilltop gymnasium, or the old Kaino Gym, which was converted into a batting cage a few years ago.
“We’ve been confined to the indoors, so that’s a little difficult,” Tapio said. “Not a lot of fly balls and outfield work. That’s the most difficult part.”
In the end, Tapio said they will judge their success by how long they get to keep playing.
“We’d like to go deeper in to the playoffs,” said Tapio. The Fishermen lost 13-0 to Wahkiakum in the district playoffs last year. “We’ve made it to the playoffs the last couple years and it’s been one and done. This year we expect to go further. Get some postseason wins.”
The Fishermen are scheduled to play a home game with Naselle on Friday before hosting a Pacific League doubleheader with Chief Leschi on Tuesday.