FAIRBANKS — West Valley head coach Mark Wade, during a cellphone interview Monday, pointed out the importance of pitching in a baseball tournament.
“Tournaments are won by teams that have the best pitching. That’s no secret,” Wade said.
Pitching will be important to the Wolfpack in the Alaska School Activities Association/First National Bank State Baseball Championships at Moller Park in Sitka.
“I think we have as good of a pitching staff as any team,’’ Wade said.
Casey Lewandowski is 2-1 with a 1.10 earned-run average for the Wolfpack, which begins the state tournament at 1 p.m. today against the Wasilla Warriors.
“He was under 1.00 for most of the season,” Wade said of Lewandowski.
Taylor Kelsey generated five saves during the season to go with a 1-0 record and 2.70 ERA. Kelsey also led the 6-2 Wolfpack in RBI during the regular season.
Wade wants his team’s defense to be as effective as its pitching during the eight-team, three-day tournament. He doesn’t want to see in Sitka what he saw at Marlin Field in last Friday’s 8-5 loss to the Lathrop Malemutes in the MAC regular-season finale.
The Wolfpack were charged with seven errors while the Malemutes had none.
“I think my team is as good as Lathrop but we beat ourselves,” Wade said. “Both games we lost to Lathrop this season were based on unearned runs.
“We lost both games because of errors,” he added.
Hitting also will be key for the Wolfpack in the state tournament, starting today against Wasilla, the top team from the Southcentral Conference.
“Wasilla, traditionally, is a well-practiced team,” Wade said. “They’ve got size with a big group of boys. They play aggressive baseball, they hit the ball well.
“I think our kids have to hit the ball, we have to play solid defense and we have to have strong pitching,” he added. “We have to be competitive against them.”
Freshman third baseman/right fielder Blake Swarthout leads the Wolfpack with a .391 batting average.
“He’s really come along this season, he’s hit the ball well,’’ Wade said.
Junior shortstop and pitcher Tyler Christmann is just behind Swarthout, hitting 390. Sophomore third baseman Trent Chiu is the team’s third-leading batter with a .332 average.
Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.