• Homer focuses on fundamentals as season swings into action
By Sean Pearson
Spring sports at Alaska high schools are not for the weak-of-heart. Playing fields are often in questionable condition — and sometimes covered in snow until May. Fluctuations in outdoor temperatures run the gamut between a sun-drenching swelter of 65 degrees and an overcast windchill of 10 below. (It’s a really strong wind.) And you never know when a moose might decide to stroll across the field.
Spring sports in Alaska have a very short window of opportunity to squeeze as many games as possible into the final few weeks of school; and that’s amid finals, graduation and a variety of other minor distractions.
First-year Mariner head coach Mark Putney said time spent in the gym — waiting for the field to thaw — helps break the game into smaller sections.
Seniors and co-captains Tommy Bowe and Nahoa Jette lead the way for Homer this year, and Putney said he is very excited about a “strong group of juniors.”
With 25 players this year, Homer will be able to field a junior varsity team, giving more playing time to younger players who need to develop further.
“We have a good-looking team,” Bowe said of his group. “It might take a game or two for us to get started, but we’ve got some good players.”
Jette also thinks the team has “good chemistry.”
“As a team, we are connecting with each other,” he said. “We want to have fun and just go out and play some good baseball.”
Assisted by coaches Rich Sonnen and Steve Fuson, Putney is focusing on baseball fundamentals.
“We work on the little things and try to improve them each day,” Putney said. “We try to emphasize maximizing players’ potential, rather than merely winning a game.”
As this will be Putney’s first and last season as head coach — he’ll be heading to Oregon — the team hopes to get him a championship before he has to go.
The Mariners open their regular season in Kodiak with games on April 25 and 26. Homer’s first home game is Friday, May 2 against Colony. The JV game starts at 3:30 p.m., followed by the varsity around 6 p.m.
The M’s are scheduled to play 11 regular-season games, concluding with a final home game on May 20 against Soldotna, and a May 26 game at Kenai.
Mariner Baseball is broadcast by KGTL radio, with Dave Webb calling the action. All games are weather-dependent, so check with the high school for any recent schedule changes.
Wendy Wayne contributed to this article.
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