Edmonds-Woodway eager to tackle new challenges | Baseball

Defending league, district champion undergoes major roster overhaul
By David Pan | Mar 08, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Edmonds-Woodway’s Julian Kodama fields a ball during practice at Edmonds-Woodway High School. Kodama is expected to see more time on the mound this season.

This year’s Edmonds-Woodway baseball team has a tough act to follow.

But the Warriors are up for the challenge.

Edmonds-Woodway is coming off its most successful season in school history. The Warriors won the Wesco 3A South championship, captured their first district title and eventually advanced all the way to the 3A state semifinals before bringing back a fourth-place trophy.

“It definitely set a bar for us to reach,” said senior Jacob Kitchen. “But last year was last year. So we kind of have to look ahead and that’s been a central theme of our mentality and approach to the season. We had a lot of success last year. But that’s last year. We’ve got to get it this year too.”

Senior Julian Kodama said that the two losses to end the season were disappointing.

“We got a taste of what it feels like to be one of the best teams,” he said. “But we came up short last year. … We all want to go back this year. We all have worked hard enough to get there. We all will work hard to get there.”

The roster has undergone a fairly significant turnover with the graduation of five seniors, including the team’s top pitcher, hitters and fielders.

Former No. 1 starter Nick Hull is now playing at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Edmonds-Woodway will be turning to some familiar faces, who saw action on the mound last season.

Edmonds-Woodway coach Dan Somoza expects Kodama to be the team’s No. 1 pitcher, but beyond that the rest of the rotation is wide open.

“We have a whole bunch of guys,” Somoza said. “I don’t know who’ll be No. 2 or No. 3. It’ll work itself out.”

Kitchen said that junior Ian Michael, senior Tai Starchman and junior Karsen Tjarneberg will be strong candidates.

“Hopefully, they’ll get the job done,” Kitchen said. “I believe they can.”

Kodama is ready for an increased pitching load and anticipates the Warriors will have a strong rotation. His teammates have grown a little physically and have come into the season well-prepared.

“They hit the gym more. They worked more and they kind of tried to perfect their craft a little bit more,” Kodama said. “The work ethic is there. I think we’re going to be just fine.”

A major part of the Warriors’ success last season can be attributed to the close relationships among the players.

“We’re not just friends. We’re family,” Kodama said. “That’s what we were last year. I think we’re going to carry it on this year.”

The graduation of players such as Brandon Mitchell, Kosta Cooper and Garrison Krohn means Edmonds-Woodway will have players stepping into new roles. Every position is wide open and that’s the way Somoza and the players like it.

“A lot of young guys have the chance to prove what they can do,” Somoza said. “Those young guys learned from the senior class. … Last year’s lineup was set in stone. This year’s it’s up for grabs.”

“You’ve got to earn your spot,” Kodama added. “Whether you started last year or not is irrelevant. It’s a new year and that was last year.”

Kitchen has confidence in his teammates.

“As a player, every one of these guys is extremely capable,” he said.

As the defending league champs, the Warriors are ready to take every other team’s best shot.

“I want everyone to bring their best. We have to live up to the standard we set last year,” Kitchen said. “I think we’re ready to embrace the challenge this season.”

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