Sports

Young Chargers team ready to take the field

Marysville Getchell junior Brandon Bethers practices his infield throw on the Marysville-Pilchuck field. - Kirk Boxleitner
Marysville Getchell junior Brandon Bethers practices his infield throw on the Marysville-Pilchuck field.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — For first-year Marysville Getchell baseball head coach Gerry Klep, the 2012 season presents a worthy challenge, even for someone with 22 years of coaching experience.

Klep, who has spent the last 12 years coaching 13- to 16-year-olds at the select level in Snohomish County, said that the biggest challenges with a first-year program are twofold — the lack of experience and leadership that varsity returners provide, as well as developing team chemistry.

“Just getting to know the players,” said Klep, on what he’s been focusing on the most during the preseason. “I’ve never seen any of them play before, so it will take me and the coaching staff, three, four, five weeks to learn how the players learn and how they react to different tones, and different coaching styles.”

A Fresh Start

After Marysville-Pilchuck’s enormous student body of nearly 3,000 split in 2010 to form the new Marysville Getchell Campus, nobody knew for sure how that would affect turnout for high school sports.

Much to Klep’s surprise, the turnout — and resulting talent pool — for his baseball team was much greater than expected, as 44 athletes turned out in total, 33 of them being retained for the varsity and JV teams.

“It’s been great,” Klep beamed. “Couldn’t ask for anything better, and I think we surprised ourselves with a little more talent than I’d thought we’d have.”

At the forefront of the impact players will be the team’s only everyday senior, Alex Christensen, a sure-handed third baseman with some pop in his bat.

“He will provide needed leadership with such a young team ... and good power in the middle of the lineup,” Klep lauded.

Also looking solid are a pair of juniors — Lorenzo Simmons, a strong-armed catcher with power from the left side of the plate, and versatile Brandon Bethers, who can pitch and also play the middle infield.

“He has shown himself to be our energy guy and vocal leader,” said Klep about Bethers.

Batting leadoff for the Chargers will likely be Tim  , a speedy sophomore infielder that has great range.

Klep noted that the community has been behind the new program, even with the recent success of the Tomahawks’ baseball team (55-14 record last three seasons).

“There’s lots of anticipation and maybe some overzealous expectations,” he described. “But so far, so good.”

Seize The Moment

Unlike many high school coaches, who set firm goals in mind from the first practice onward, Klep decided to take a different route with his first-year team.

“I don’t want our kids to have any expectations,” he explained. “I want them to pride themselves with their ability to play together as a group, and compete with the rest of the schools in our league.”

He added that, particularly for a young team, the Chargers’ success will be dependent on how mentally strong his players will be, how they will handle the ebb and tide of a long baseball season.

“We’re going to have our ups and downs, and we have to learn to fight through the down portions,” Klep noted. “We’ll be ready to seize the moment when the positive things come our way.”

Klep, who describes himself as “an educator of the game,” said he doesn’t want to think too far ahead as far as the playoffs are concerned.

He prefers to keep it one game at a time, and let the talent of his young team blossom as they learn what it takes to be successful at the varsity level.

“Typically, teams that I coach continually get better as the year goes on,” he said. “My goal is to make sure we’re a better team 10 games in than we were in the second game.”

The Chargers get their season underway on Monday, on the road against Cascade, at 4 p.m., with their home opener slated for Friday, Mar. 16 against Arlington, also at 4 p.m.

 

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