July 26, 1999
Members of the 1999 Woodinville Baseball Club/Sandy Koufax 14-year-olds Select Team include (left to right): Back Row--Coach Doug Hall, Brandon Markey, Coach Chris Priseman, Mike Wagner, Josh Kutz, Casey Priseman, Kyle Kendrick, D.T. Nance, Chris Albrecht, Manager Bob Aoki; front row--Richie Lentz, Jon Willard, Thomas Knowles, Batboy Mitch Johnson, Brad Johnson, Ian Warner.
by Marshall Haley, staff reporter
WOODINVILLE--The Woodinville Baseball Club's (WBC) Sandy Koufax team for 14-year-olds will be the second WBC team representing Washington State in a World Series next week.
Coached by Bob Aoki, the team qualified for both the AAU and CABA World Series tournaments by winning the Regional tournaments for both classifications. They chose the CABA tournament in Dublin, Ohio, which starts the last week of July.
"This team finished 10th last year in the AAU nationals in Riverside, Calif., so we think we have a pretty good chance at winning a title this year," said Aoki.
The team has won four of the six tournaments they entered this year and finished second in the other two. They finished second in the prestigious Big League Dreams Spring Tournament in Palm Desert, Calif., in April.
"That tournament included three California teams that had won national titles," said Aoki. "Our season was just starting, but those southern teams had already played about 40 games before that tournament. Most of the coaches in California now pressure kids to focus on one sport. We have a lot of multi-sport athletes; some play soccer or football in the fall, and basketball in winter."
The team never discusses individual batting averages or accomplishments during the season, instead emphasizing the team concept. But Aoki did give special mention to team captain Ian Warner, who clearly demonstrates the highest qualities of peer leadership.
"Ian has played many positions for the team, wherever we needed him, and he's often the best athlete at whatever position we ask him to play, according to team need," said Aoki. "Still, this team does not feature any one player, but consists of many well-balanced players who clearly understand the concept of 'team play.' Regardless of wins and losses, the bottom line is that this year's team consists of kids who truly represent a disposition of what it means to be a 'good citizen.' They are great kids in their community, in school, and on the field."
The team maintains an overall school GPA of 3.55, with all members over 3.0, Aoki said.
The team batting average is .403, led by Richie Lentz, Nick Hall, Jon Willard, and Mike Wagner. Pitching is spread among 10 players, led by D.T. Nance, Mike Wagner, Richie Lentz, Casey Priseman, and Nick Hall.
The core of the team consists of six players who have played together since T-ball, and played together on Woodinville West Little League all-star teams for over five years, said Aoki. Those players are Richie Lentz, Thomas Knowles, Casey Priseman, Ian Warner, Nick Hall, and Brad Johnson.