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Kennedy Catholic Boys’ Baseball Advances to 2023 District Playoffs

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Kennedy Catholic Boys’ Baseball Advances to the 2023 District 3/4 4A Baseball Playoffs.

by Joe Slye

The Kennedy Catholic Lancers boys’ baseball team begins playoff action on Tuesday, May 9. The Lancers finished the year with an overall record of 16 wins and 5 losses, and 4A Conference play ended with a 7-5 record.

Tahoma went undefeated in both conference play (12-0) and overall play (20-0) to secure first place in the 4A conference and a #2 seed in the District playoffs. At 7-5, the Lancers and Federal Way Eagles tied for second place in the 4A conference. Federal Way earned the #6 seed, and they will play the #3 seed Olympia on May 9. The Lancers are the #8 seed team and face the #1 seed Puyallup Vikings.

Kennedy Catholic was on a roll for the first 10 games of the year. They hit a bump in the road with a 9-0 loss to Federal Way on April 11. They recovered nicely with a win over Decatur and two wins over Mount Rainier. Then the “bottom fell out,” and the Lancers went on a four-game skid. However, the competition was tougher, with two games at Tahoma resulting in a 10-3 loss and a 6-5 loss. Then a home and away with “middle of the pack” Kentwood ended with two losses, both by a 3-2 score. The Lancers regained some momentum and finished the season with three wins in close games over North Kitsap 5-3, Federal Way 5-4, and West Seattle 6-5.

Back on track, Kennedy Catholic now gets to face the #7 State ranked Puyallup Vikings. The Vikings are on a 14-game winning streak and cruised to an 18-2 overall record and a 17-1 conference record. Puyallup dominated in many of their wins and should prove to be a difficult opponent.

The district playoffs are a double-elimination format. A win on May 9 means a few days off, and the next game is being played on May 13. A loss on May 9 sets up the tough trip through the loser’s bracket, with games possible on May 10 and May 13. Seven teams from the District 3/4 4A 16-team bracket will advance to the state tournament played the following week.

The Kennedy Catholic team is an experienced squad with 11 seniors, 3 juniors, 2 sophomores, and 4 freshmen. A group of 5 players played in all the games and contributed significantly to the team’s .330 batting average. This group included seniors Peter Hollabaugh, who led the team with a .467 batting average, and Micah Hagler, not far behind, batting .391. Junior Coleman Hollabaugh carried a .400 batting average, and two freshmen made tremendous contributions, with Dante Saladino batting .385 and Liam Rhoads hitting .326.

The pitching duties were split between a cast of players. No one dominated, but all were effective in their roles. Seniors Micah Hagler, Zach Hatcher, and junior Coleman Hollabaugh carried the load on pitched innings. Freshman Harvey Lieberman also pitched some solid innings and was effective as a freshman in his ability to strike out batters.

Last year’s team also advanced to the district playoffs. They beat Emerald Ridge 3-1 in the opening round but then lost 9-7 to Sumner in the loser-out second round. With a solid group of returning players for 2023, the Lancers have shown some progress from last season’s 15-8 overall record to improve to 16-5 this year. Coach Dale Dolejsi expected this team to be one of his top teams in his 10 years as head coach. One goal was to finish in the top of the 4A NPSL conference. Mission accomplished, except for the blemish of a 4-game losing streak in mid-season. Another goal was to make a deep run into the playoffs. That is the task at hand in the coming days. Playoff success will make this a season to remember!

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