As the green-jerseyed players arrived at the Hartman Park baseball field on a recent Wednesday afternoon, they walked with a swagger toward the third-base dugout and prepared for practice. With banter and laughter in the air, players laced up their cleats and wedged hats onto their heads. The Redmond High Mustangs were ready to go while head coach Dan Pudwill looked on.
After losing numerous close, low-scoring games last year to finish fourth in 3A KingCo, Pudwill wants to make sure the Mustangs cross the plate many times during the 2018 campaign.
“We’re focusing a lot more on base running and aggressiveness on the basepaths,” he said. “We’ve got a mantra, we’re talking about being ‘Stuck on Green,’ indicating a green light and pushing the envelope a little bit there and understanding the risks that are associated with it.”
They’ll live with the rewards that come from taking those risks, he added. With their speed, they want to create run-scoring opportunities instead of waiting for someone to deliver with the bat.
One top returner is Connor Barison, a senior pitcher who was an all-league first-teamer and all-state player last year. He’s committed to play ball at Washington State University.
“He’s absolutely dominant on the mound,” Pudwill said. “He gives us a chance to win any time out. We didn’t win many times when he pitched last year, but it’s ‘cause we lost 1-0 or 2-0 or 2-1 or whatever it might be. He’s pretty exciting.”
Other key players are Hunter Sullivan, a senior first baseman/designated hitter who has committed to play at Blue Mountain Community College in Oregon; Yui Suzuki, a junior center fielder and all-league honorable mention last year; Spencer Uyematsu, a junior infielder; Wil Helland, a senior third baseman; and Bradley Cagle, a senior left fielder.
“Spencer and Yui spent a lot of time in the weight room, as did a lot of our guys. Getting bigger and stronger is a point of emphasis for us,” Pudwill said. “You can definitely see the ball is jumping off their bat a little bit more this year as they’ve developed and matured and gotten stronger.”
Redmond was 2-3 overall at press time.
Head coach: Dan Pudwill
Last year: 8-6 league, 9-12 overall, fourth place in 3A KingCo
Key returners: Connor Barison, senior, P; Hunter Sullivan, senior, 1B/DH; Yui Suzuki, junior, CF; Spencer Uyematsu, junior, INF