Redmond senior David Gibons fires away in a recent game. Courtesy of Marc La Pierre,

Redmond baseball rolls into 3A KingCo with team trust, chemistry

Everybody was in on the action during Redmond High’s varsity baseball team practice on Tuesday afternoon at Hartman Park.

For the last hour or so, Mustangs rotated on and off the field while they focused on game situations, like batters striving to move teammates around the bases on hit-and-runs and more.

Head coach Dan Pudwill was a vital part of the session, encouraging players to execute and throwing batting practice as well.

“They’re coming together,” said Pudwill after practice, noting that paying attention to details matters, especially during that final part of practice that will pay off during games. “Trying to be a good team guy and doing what you need to do. (Like the) situation with the bat in order to help the team win, not necessarily help your stats inflate.”

Redmond is 0-1 in 3A KingCo and 1-5 overall. In a 5-0 league-opening loss to Juanita on Wednesday, Grant South and Yui Suzuki had two hits each. The game was scoreless until Juanita tallied all its runs in the last two innings.

In a Redmond 7-6 win over Kennewick, David Gibons’ sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth inning scored Casey Beliel. Wil Helland, Cameron Allen-Shipman and Bradley Cagle had two hits each for Redmond and Beliel had two RBIs.

In a 1-0 loss to Eastlake, Allen-Shipman and Helland had hits and Connor Barison tossed four innings of no-hit ball.

Junior Barison — who has verbally committed to Washington State University — is the team’s No. 1 pitcher and is starting to show good command of the baseball, Pudwill said.

Senior Gibons stands in the No. 2 pitching slot and has returned to the mound following Tommy John surgery (ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction) a year and a half ago. He hit last year, but didn’t pitch and he’s “really worked hard to come back from the surgery and be ready for this year to contribute to this team,” Pudwill said.

Gibons notes that he’s getting his consistency back on the mound and he’s feeling stronger and more excited than ever. He will also put in some time as a first baseman, which he did last year.

On sitting out of the pitching rotation last year, Gibons said: “Last year seeing everybody else pitch, it was tough not being able to step out on the mound for a long time. I definitely knew my time would come.”

Along with returning starter Gibons, the Mustangs have seniors Jack Vonderhaar in the outfield, South at catcher and Alex Astorga at shortstop back on board.

According to Pudwill, Vonderhaar has grown into a strong leader and a polished hitter and has a great work ethic; South is talented behind the plate and potent with the bat; and Astorga has been getting on base in his leadoff spot and brings a wealth of infield experience to the table.

“They definitely have the same desire, the same passion, the same commitment to being good that previous teams have had,” Pudwill said of his entire squad.

The coach said that moving from 4A to 3A KingCo will still result in constant battles on the basepaths. It will be competitive the whole way with teams like Interlake and Juanita — ranked third and seventh in the state, respectively — on the docket along with returning state champs Lake Washington, Bellevue and Mercer Island.

Vonderhaar is looking forward to continuing the renewed rivalry with LW that returned during the football and basketball seasons. He also knows a couple of the MI guys, so those should be entertaining games as well.

“I think the fire is there. I think focus and coming to the ballpark every day wanting to win is gonna be the biggest key,” said Vonderhaar, noting that Pudwill has instilled those qualities — plus having fun — into the players. “We put in a lot of work this offseason, we did lifting for the first time as a team.”

Added Gibons, who aims to contribute positivity and energy: “I think we’ve got really good chemistry, we’ve got a good family here, everybody counts on each other and trusts each other.”

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