The Cheney 17U Summerhawks baseball team is back in full swing for the summer season.
The Summerhawks will once again play an independent schedule and compete against teams from Washington and Idaho.
Head coach Austin Sharp leads the team for the second year with Riley Roberts as an assistant, specifically helping with pitching and infield. Last year Sharp led the Summerhawks to an 11-13 record, including a 2-3 finish in the Wood Bat Classic tournament and a 2-2 run in the Red Hawk Classic Tournament in Yakima.
Preparation for the season started early for some players who participated in winter workouts at the Eastern Washington University fieldhouse.
Sharp said this year’s team is a mix of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, some of whom had experience playing on Cheney High School’s baseball varsity team in the spring, including Andrew Witt, Matt Riggs, Dylan Arthur and Jacob Lauber. After six practices, Sharp said his team is “adapting well” to his coaching style and is “one of the most competitive groups” he’s coached in a while.
Sharp said players like Witt, Riggs and Arthur— who played on last year’s 17U team — have stepped up in their roles as leaders of the team.
“They’ve done a good job in getting the younger guys together and acquainted with my style,” Sharp said. “The leadership in this group has been awesome.”
Sharp added that Peabody is recovering from a broken collar bone and is expected to play later in the season.
The Summerhawks’ schedule is comprised of games against teams like Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak, Riverside, Prairie Cardinals and the Spokane Crew 16U team.
Sharp noted Cheney’s 13-game stretch in late-June — early July that includes a six-team round robin tournament in Ephrata (June 23-26), a doubleheader against Northwest Premier 16U team (June 28) and the annual Wood Bat Classic tournament (July 1-3). Cheney will not host a pod in this year’s Wood Bat tournament, but will instead compete in Medical Lake’s pod.
“Our schedule has some really good clubs,” Sharp said. “My guys are going to have to play hard and step up. By then everyone will know their role.”
Sharp said there are eight players who can pitch and that Luke Martin and Mason Bender, a transfer from Ferris High School, will share the catcher’s position. As for the other infield and outfield positions, Sharp said he is not looking to lock one player into one spot. He said the summer season allows players to get experience in different areas.
“As far as expectations go, I want them to play hard and learn as much as they can in order to get ready for next spring,” Sharp said. “I also want them to develop the in-game awareness.”
The Summerhawks begin the season on the road at Clarkston, Sunday June 5 with a doubleheader against the Asotin County Blues.