From a win-loss measure, it was a lost season for the South Lakes High baseball team. Despite the poor team record, head coach Galvin Morris took a lot of positives away from the 2009 spring campaign.
"Win-loss wise, yes [it was poor]," said Morris. "But I think we have a great group of kids. They work hard. We scrapped but couldn’t get over the hump."
South Lakes’ wins came over Woodson in a Liberty District game and non-district opponent West Potomac (Patriot District).
South Lakes, which saw its season end last week with a 4-0 loss to Marshall in a first round district tournament game, played several district opponents close in tough losses, including setbacks to Langley, 1-0; Madison, 5-4; and Stone Bridge, 3-0.
"We showed our inexperience [at times]," said Morris, who had only two seniors in his starting line-up.
South Lakes’ two senior starters, second baseman Jon Baamonde and first baseman Tyler Siqueiros, were solid team leaders, according to Morris.
Baamonde, an emotional leader and player, earned Second Team All-Liberty District honors this season. In 2008, he made All-District as an Honorable Mention selection.
"I look at him and he’s kind of a coach on the field," said Morris, of Baamonde. "He kept everyone together and calm. He kind of guided [younger] guys in what varsity baseball is all about.
Baamonde, in the Seahawks’ batting order, hit anywhere from leadoff to clean-up over the course of his varsity career. He hit mostly out of the No. 3 spot as a senior. He improved over his three years of varsity ball in all areas of the game and became a solid player.
"Defensively, he got better every year and on offense, his numbers improved," said Morris.
Siqueiros, more of a quiet leader, made his mark in the field as a sure-handed first bagger.
"He can pick it over there," said Morris, of the left-handed hitting Siqueiros, who had a knack of coming up with tough-hop grounders. "He saved us big time when balls were in the dirt."
<b>THE TEAM’S TOP</b> underclassmen ball players this season included sophomore third baseman Will Sweet, an All-District Honorable Mention selection, and sophomore center fielder Wilfredo Corps-Ortiz.
Sweet, along with playing the hot corner position for South Lakes, was also a key pitcher for his team. He tossed a good game in the district playoff loss to Marshall. The Statesmen scored all of their runs in the first inning. Sweet allowed just four hits in the game and went the distance.
Corps-Ortiz played a steady centerfield for the Seahawks all season. Coach Morris said Corps-Ortiz learned a lot about playing outfield during his freshman season in 2008 from then-senior Noah Sweet, who was a top outfielder in the program.
"Wilfredo really anchored things out there," said Morris, of the 10th grader’s stellar outfield play this spring. "Noah really taught him some things in the outfield [in 2008]. You really learn from those guys."
Corps-Ortiz batted in the leadoff position or in the No. 3 hole for the Seahawks. Morris said his hitting showed good improvement over the course of the season.
Freshman Nick Beaulac, who was the team’s starting shortstop and a key member of the pitching staff, had a good season as well. Playing varsity shortstop as a ninth grader is no easy task, but Beaulac was impressive with his overall game.
"He’s played a lot of baseball and kind of has things figured out," said Morris. "He made errors, but learned from them."
The team’s most versatile player was freshman Billy McLaughlin, who saw playing time at second and third base, as well as in the outfield and on the pitching mound.
"He’s one of those utility players who can play anywhere," said Morris. "We’re looking for his true position. He’ll probably be a [infield] corner guy, first or third base maybe. He just loves baseball. He usually has the dirtiest uniform."
A lot of players will return to the team next school year. Morris hopes and expects those back with the program will be improved players hungry to succeed.
"I think this group will work," he said. "They’re talking about playing together in the summer."
<b>EARLIER THIS SEASON</b> when uniforms were being handed out, someone grabbed hold of an old, red Marshall softball jersey. Soon, the nostalgic uniform top became the rallying cry for this year’s team. Before games all season long, the Marshall players have raised the jersey and recited the following chant: "When’s the last time we won the district?"
The response is always "1976."
Then, "When are we going to win again?" And the response, "2009."
Marshall almost pulled it off. But district runner-up is not such a bad thing for a program that has known limited success over the years.
"Since the first game, they’ve been carrying [the old jersey] around. Winning the district has been a focus for us since day one," said second-year head coach Laura Campbell. "I think this team has started to play well as a unit."
During Campbell’s first season at the helm in 2008, Marshall finished 8-10-1. But the Statesmen have improved their offensive production this season, and they are playing a crisper game in the field. The result has been a winning season, a run to the district finals and a berth in the region playoffs. A year ago, Marshall missed out on qualifying for the regionals after a first round district tournament loss to Langley.
Campbell credits her four team captains, senior second baseman Elizabeth Stonehill, junior catcher Michelle Tilson, junior center fielder Olivia Ellis and senior third baseman Tricia Wallace, with guiding the Statesmen to high achievements this season.
"They’ve been helpful in getting the younger girls in line as far as expectations for the team," said Campbell. "They’ve really stepped up as leaders."
In her team’s district semifinals win over McLean, Wallace singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to give the Statesmen a 2-1 lead on way to the 4-1 victory.
<b>THREE MARSHALL PLAYERS</b> earned recent First Team All-Liberty District accolades in Tilson (catcher), junior first baseman Lauren Sanata and junior pitcher Christine Grilliot (at-large selection).
On the mound, Grilliot has been a model of consistency and hard work. Catcher Tilson calls the pitches from behind the plate and Grilliot executes them.
"She’s been really consistent all year in hitting her spots and keeping batters off balance," said Campbell, of the pitching ace.
At the plate this season, Grilliot has led the Statesmen in RBIs.
Tilson, meanwhile, has led the team in batting and extra base hits. She has knocked three home runs.
Two other Marshall players earned All-District recognition: Stonehill at second base (Second Team) and Ellis in center field (Honorable Mention).
"This is a team that has really come together and played as a team," said Campbell, a former collegiate softball player at Slippery Rock University (Pa.). "Our hitting has really done well. We’ve been aggressive at the plate."