Springtime Baseball in Anchorage

Annika Morris, Reporter

Spring means high school baseball season in Anchorage. West Anchorage High School’s baseball team is beginning its season with high hopes and fresh faces. Run by American Legion Baseball, the team represents West, yet they technically do not play for the school.

“They’re an outsourced sport, which means while they wear black and orange and have ‘West’ on their uniforms; they’re completely run by a third party. In this case, American Legion,” said Ja Dorris, the vice principal of activities at West. He handles many of the out-of-classroom activities.

The team is not playing in the league, but they have played games against other schools. Senior Declan Dammeyer has been playing baseball for 12 years. He primarily plays in left field for the Varsity team. “We haven’t been playing to our best, letting some of the younger kids get in and try some positions,” Dammeyer said. Many boys on the team have been together for years, so they have been able to solidify their fundamentals and function well together. Since the non-league games are less competitive, the team has been able to test the newer players. By letting the younger kids play, they can form a more cohesive team and allow everyone to get to where they need to be.

On the other hand, some of the younger kids have proved themselves as solid players. “There are some kids who have been in the program for a long time that have to fight for their spots ‘cause there are some younger players that have a lot of skill,” said John Opinsky. Opinsky has been involved with West’s baseball team for three years as an associate, and now he is the head coach.

The team’s best attribute has become evident early in the season. “So far, I think our strength is defense, but I think we need to work on everything,” Dammeyer said. The saying, “There is always room for improvement,” applies to the team this year. The team has its strengths, but it also has aspects to refine. “Defense [is the strongest] for the Varsity for sure. Pitching is probably a close second,” Opinsky said. The hitting skills of the team are questionable, but that does not prove to be a significant problem for Opinsky. He said the defense would be enough to back up the lack of offense on the team.

The season’s prospect is optimistic. There is some confidence in the team, but there is even more energy. “We’re enthusiastic about [the season]. We’ve got a group of coaches that are excited to be here and a group of players that really feel like we can make some noise,” said Opinsky. The team has not been very successful in the past few years, but the coaches and players are looking to change that. Dorris said, “There’s a group coming up, and with that group, there’s more parent involvement and more support.” Hopefully, with the mix of optimism, support, and young players, the team will be heading towards a successful season. Last year, the team made the state tournament for the first time in eight years, and they hope to get there again.