Puyallup baseball aims for first state championship
The Puyallup High School baseball team is looking to make history this season.
"Like I've told them from the beginning of the year; we have about 90 days together," said Vikings head coach Marc Wiese. "Let's make every day special, let's play hard, and let's have some fun at the same time."
Puyallup is making the most of its time. The Vikings are 24-0, the top-ranked 4A team in the state, and they're ranked sixth in the country by USA Today.
"Every time we go into a game, we know we're going to win it," said first baseman Quinn Rawson. "We're confident and we have that dirt dog swagger. When we go into the game with that mindset, it's difficult to beat us. We know for a fact we're going to win."
With winning comes more pressure. The Vikings have the burden of state and national rankings, and that draws plenty of college coaches and professional scouts to their games.
"We've always had that pressure and that target on our backs," says catcher Brendan Illies. "It's just become commonplace with Puyallup High School. We don't worry about the people in the stands or all the people here watching. We just go out and play baseball and have fun doing it."
There's one thing Puyallup hasn't accomplished yet this year, and it's the Vikings ultimate goal.
"State championship is the target," Rawson said. "Winning league is cool, but state championship is the goal."
The Vikings have their chance. After winning districts last weekend, Puyallup is heading to the state tournament for the ninth time in the last ten years.
"What I told them is just play hard and leave it all on the field," Wiese said. "Whatever happens, happens and if it's meant to be, it's meant to be."
That's where history comes in. Puyallup has never won a state championship, but four more wins changes that forever.
"We just play team baseball," said Illies. "We always have guys picking each other up in the dugout, and we just play as a team. If we play as individuals, that's when we struggle. But when we play as a team, there's no one better in my mind."
The Vikings start their state journey on Saturday at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma. Puyallup squares off against Edmonds-Woodway at 1 p.m. If they win their opener, they'd play Battle Ground or Gonzaga Prep in the quarterfinals later that afternoon.
The 4A state championship game is scheduled for Saturday, May 31st in Pasco.