Growls shortstop Gabe Villaflor tags out a Vashon Island runner at second base on April 9. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Growls shortstop Gabe Villaflor tags out a Vashon Island runner at second base on April 9. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Growls keep things upbeat while notching copious victories

Combined Overlake/Bear Creek baseball team on a roll.

Jay Sivadas is outgoing and intense.

One moment, the junior catcher for the combined Overlake/Bear Creek baseball team will be all smiles while chatting with the umpire and an opposing batter. Prior to stepping into the batter’s box when the Growls are up, Sivadas closes his eyes and puts two fingers to his lips in a sort of meditation mode. While on defense or offense, he’s clearly ready to go while displaying those actions.

Through the Growls’ first nine games — all victories for the locals — Sivadas led the team with a .613 batting average with 19 hits, seven doubles and 10 RBIs.

Following his team’s 4-0 victory over Vashon Island on April 9 at Marymoor Park near Redmond, Sivadas spoke of “having a predator mindset, where we’re always out there trying to jump on every pitch, attack every batter, want the ball to come to us. That’s how we’ve been able to have success in the beginning half of the year.”

“Keeping it upbeat” is the Growls’ motto and Sivadas always tries to make friends with others on the diamond, “because at the end of the day, we’re all people and we’re just out here to have fun and play the sport we love.”

The Mike Davidson-coached Growls lost in the 1A bi-district tournament last year and aim to get back into the state tourney like they did two years ago. Sivadas said they’ve learned from their mistakes, have become more aggressive and are doing things a step better than last season.

Other Growls who have been hot with their bats this season are senior first baseman/pitcher Jon Campbell (.500, 15 RBIs and 17 runs scored), senior infielder Austin Mell (.364 and 17 runs scored), sophomore shortstop Gabe Villaflor (.381 with three homers and 14 RBIs), freshman outfielder/first baseman Alex Hartnett (.321 with 14 RBIs) and junior first baseman Rohan Narasayya (.312).

Campbell has been dominant on the mound as well with three victories and 25 strikeouts. Sophomore Matt Hwang sports a 2-0 record and earned the victory over Vashon Island.

“We have a really good team chemistry out here and I think that keeps us together and helps us stay focused,” said Campbell, also a stellar golfer who has qualified for bi-districts this spring.

During his four years on the team, Campbell is glad to be part of a fun and competitive team. He’s learned a crucial lesson to push him along the way: “My freshman year, I was very nervous just to go out there and make a mistake, and I’ve noticed now that as a senior, mistakes, they happen. If you worry too much about failure, you’re not gonna succeed.”

Villaflor, too, applied pressure on himself to succeed during his freshman year. It was nerve-racking, the shortstop said, but he’s moved past that in his sophomore season.

“The good thing about this team is when you have all these guys around you, they’re all supporting you, there’s no pressure, it’s all fun,” Villaflor said. “There’s a lot to learn from every day, each game we play,” he added about staying relaxed and developing his leadership and baseball skills.

Villaflor thrives at his shortstop position and when getting the bat in his hands. His goal is to connect with the ball each time and help his team win games, which is something they’ve been doing a lot of lately.

Growls pitcher Matt Hwang eyes the plate against Vashon Island. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Growls pitcher Matt Hwang eyes the plate against Vashon Island. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Growls head coach Mike Davidson shares a laugh with the umpire. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Growls head coach Mike Davidson shares a laugh with the umpire. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Jay Sivadas heads toward third base. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Jay Sivadas heads toward third base. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

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