Thunder hoping for a big week in order to qualify for state tournament
They have been loud all season.
The crack of the bat. The smack of the glove.
And their voices, too.
The Mountain View baseball dugout seems to be in a constant roar, players cheering their teammates through the ups, through the downs.
This week, expect it to be even louder.
The Class 3A Greater St. Helens League champions have put themselves in a tough, yet doable, position. The Thunder went 1-1 in the opening day of the 3A bi-district baseball tournament Saturday, which means the Thunder now must win two in a row in the consolation bracket in order to make it to the state tournament.
They vow that no matter what happens this week, they will be heard.
“Having great energy in the dugout is a momentum changer, for sure,” senior Grant Francis said. “That’s why we do it.”
There is a decorum to the chants, too. All shout-outs must be positive. None of them can be directed to the other team.
“Always have good energy,” senior Spencer Warner said. “Never be down in the dugout. And it’s all related to us, to help the team out.”
Warner has an interesting point of view from the dugout. Shoulder surgery last year has limited his availability this season. He is the team’s designated hitter but does not play defense.
“I know if I’m cheering, it’s what I can do the most when I’m not on the field,” he said.
That is the kind of attitude that helped the Thunder return to the top of the 3A GSHL standings. It is a team-wide philosophy that no one player is THE leader.
“They all are captains,” Mountain View coach Aaron Coiteux said. “They all have a role. They all have an identity. Everybody has a voice.”
The Thunder went 17-3 in the regular season, including 14-1 to win the GSHL.
Mountain View opened the postseason Saturday morning with a 7-4 victory over Yelm.
Andrew Selden had three hits and drove in two runs. Jasper Rank threw a complete game and also drove in two runs.
Capital got the best of the Thunder in the afternoon game, 9-1, to advance to state.
That dropped the Thunder to the consolation bracket. They will face Wilson at Foss High School at 4 p.m. Wednesday in a must-win. If they prevail, they will play another elimination game Saturday afternoon, a game that will determine another state berth.
In the victory over Yelm, the Thunder lost a 4-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. That was nothing for them, though. They bounced right back and regained the lead in the bottom of the frame.
That has been a key all season, the coach said.
“We’re just trying our best to say, ‘Hey man, next pitch. So what that they tied the game. Get it to the next inning and do what we are supposed to do.’”
Francis said it meant the world to him to win a league title in his senior season. He echoed what his coach said.
“We just come out, do what we have to do,” Francis said. “Just … staying as a team. Never getting down on each other. Always believe in each other.”
On defense, it’s all about getting off the field, getting back in the dugout, in hopes the bats will come alive. Even in defeat, the Thunder try to stick to this plan.
In Saturday’s game against Capital, trailing 9-1 in the seventh inning, Selden made a diving catch in foul territory for the third out. Just another Thunder player going all-out for his teammates, even though the game was pretty much decided.
“It’s all about being there for each other,” Warner said. “We don’t have (individual) goals. We only have team goals. Do whatever is best for the team.”
“We want to be the best team in Mountain View history,” Francis said of that goal.
“Be remembered,” Warner said.
Mountain View has never won a state playoff game.
“We always dream about it, but we want to feel it in person,” Warner said.
“You want to live it,” Francis added.
The Thunder must win their next two games this season just for that opportunity.
No matter what happens this week, the Thunder promise to be loud and proud.