By Joe Slye
Their chances were slim once the Lancers lost the first game in the District playoffs, but give the team credit for their effort. That first-round 5-0 loss to Puyallup on May 9 sent Kennedy Catholic into the “losers” bracket. To survive the early loss, a team needs depth at pitching and batters to get hot. The Lancers held their own for two more games but fell short in their final chance to be one of the seven teams who would make it out of the District 3/4 4A 16 team bracket and advance to the State Tournament.
The next Lancer game was the following evening, May 10, at their home field against the Union Titans. Kennedy Catholic pulled off the miracle win but may have used up all their magic dust. Tied 1-1 after seven innings in a loser-out game, Union scored 3 runs in the top of the 8th. They chipped away at the deficit and loaded the bases in the Kennedy Catholic half of the inning. Peter Hollabaugh then proceeded to unload a grand slam home run to give the Lancers a 5-4 win. A classic come-from-behind win! The Lancers were still alive and were scheduled to play again on Saturday, May 13.
The 1:00 game on Saturday against the Camas Papermakers didn’t start well for the Lancers. Camas added 3 runs in the top of the third inning, extending their lead to 6-0. The Lancers finally got their offense going and scored 4 runs in the bottom of the third to close the gap. However, Camas added a run in each of the next two innings and shut down any Lancer threat to secure the 8-4 win and advance to the State Tournament.
Even with the loss, Kennedy Catholic still had one more chance to secure that seventh spot in the State Tournament—a 4:00 game against the Rogers Rams from Puyallup. The winner moves on to the State Tournament…the loser is done for the season. Rogers had advanced in similar fashion, a 5-1 win on May 10 against Curtis and a 5-2 loss to Federal Way in the 10:00 game on Saturday. Both teams had played a lot of baseball in the previous few days.
Rogers opened the scoring with 2 runs in the top of the first inning, added 2 more in the third, 5 in the sixth, and 2 in the seventh. The Rams scored a total of 11 runs on 15 hits. Kennedy Catholic was firing blanks and was shut out 11-0 on only 2 hits. The Rogers’ batters capitalized on the Lancers’ lack of pitching depth; the Kennedy Catholic bats went silent. Rogers advances as the #16 seed to the loser-out State Tournament and plays on May 20 against #1 seed Eastlake. The Lancer season is over for the year.
The Kennedy Catholic team showed some success in the 2023 season. The final record was 17-8 overall and 7-5 in conference play. This team had 11 seniors, 3 juniors, 2 sophomores, and 4 freshmen. The seniors will be missed, but with 9 players returning for next season, the team can hopefully reload for another successful run. While disappointed not to reach the State Tournament, the Lancers played good baseball all- season and in the District Tournament. Several players made significant contributions in 2023. Expect to see senior Peter Hollabaugh, with a .427 batting average, and freshman Dante Saladino, with a .375 batting average, receive some all-league recognition. The team batting average was a solid .320 for the season.