Quite a difference a year makes.
Last season, the Inglemoor Vikings packed up their bags early with just one win to their name. This time out, the squad soaked up a 4A KingCo baseball title and set up shop on the pristine field at Everett Memorial Stadium in the state playoffs.
However, the Vikings’ state experience was short lived as Skyview of Vancouver defeated the locals, 8-0, on May 19 in the opening round. Inglemoor finished 12-12 this season.
“It was just a ride all the way. I think we really did set our goals high at the beginning of the season, we just let that ride out and it all came down to this,” said senior starting pitcher AJ Baldwin after the game. “The best part about the team probably is just a good group of guys, just a really solid team you could really get behind and knew they were behind you.”
Inglemoor received four hits on the day, all singles, two from Mitch Malsam and one each from Teddy Bishop and Nathan Schuh.
Standout plays on defense for Inglemoor included a seemingly running-forever catch by Jacob Liedle, who tracked the ball down at the center-field wall; a diving catch by left fielder Malsam; and a stretching tag out by first baseman Eunsang Yu of a batter who laid down a bunt.
Skyview powered to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning on three straight singles. They added three runs in the fourth on three singles and a double. The Storm scored one in the fifth off back-to-back doubles, including one that banged high off the wall in center field. Skyview completed the scoring with a two-RBI homer in the sixth.
“It’s a cool experience playing here in front of all the fans,” senior Malsam said. “We were pretty confident, we like to stay pretty level headed and we just wanted to be aggressive and play hard.”
Malsam was one of seven seniors who helped turn last year’s 1-15 record into a golden nugget of KingCo championship glory. In the team’s postgame huddle, coach Craig Bishop said it was a huge accomplishment and mammoth step for the program.
Bishop noted that the Vikings want to continue playing at the level they achieved in 2018.
Regarding the gathering with his players afterward, the coach said: “First off, I’m thanking the seniors for the contribution, being able to turn the program around so quickly. And then you turn towards the underclassmen, and say, ‘Hey, you know, that team we played was really good today and that’s what we want to emulate moving forward ‘cause that’s what it looks like to be one of the top teams in the state.’”
The Vikings dedicated this season to former Viking Justin Marshall, who passed away last July. Their black hats featured a gold-stitched JM along the side in honor of the 2002 graduate who played on the Viks’ last KingCo championship and state-qualifying team in 2001.
Marshall assisted on the Vik junior varsity squad last year with head coach Josh Shore, and Inglemoor held a memorial ceremony at a game on March 16. Inglemoor will start up a scholarship in Marshall’s name.
“He was kind of a quiet grinder, he just took care of his business, he was a very reliable kid,” said Bishop, who coached the 2001 Vik team.
Inglemoor’s guys will never forget this spring, when a host of players who used to play at North Lake Little League together — on a team coached by Bishop as well — strung together a stellar season.
“They’ve been my friends since kindergarten all the way up, and so we’ve got good friendships on the team. It’s always fun,” said Malsam, noting that hard work, practice and determination led the sixth-seeded Vikings to emerge victorious against top-seeded Skyline, 7-3, in the KingCo title tilt.
Junior Yu said the team possessed heaps of energy, something they’ll need to rely on when next spring rolls around.
“Just playing as a team, putting more effort into our work and being more focused to make sure we have a better season next year,” said Yu, who was part of the North Lake Little League squad. “It’s very special, growing up together and winning the KingCo title together.”