Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Braves Sports, March 28, 2012

Photo by Karla Reynolds

La Conner linksters ace Similk in season debut
By Bill Reynolds
It didn't take La Conner High golfers long to get into the swing of things.
La Conner's Jake Silva and Hillary Edwards were top medalists as the Braves’ and girls' golf teams enjoyed solid rounds in their season debuts last week at Similk Beach.
La Conner played host to teams from Shoreline Christian and Cedar Park Christian, with the Braves winning the boys' half of the match.
Team scores weren't compiled on the girls' side because the squads weren't able to field the required five players per school. 
Silva carded an even par 36 over nine holes despite wet conditions from recent heavy rains.
"I didn't think it played that difficult," Silva said afterward, "because it's my home course. I was able to play my game and everything seemed to click."
Edwards, who nearly qualified for State a year ago, shot a 52 despite being momentarily distracted when a roaming Newfoundland dog picked up teammate Bailey Wyles' ball.
"It had a nasty drool on it," quipped Edwards, a junior, who also shook off the effects of rain-soaked fairways.
"It wasn't as bad as it was last year," she noted, recalling the dismal spring weather of 2011. "But sometimes it makes the game ten times harder. But, then again, that's golf for you."
The highlight of Edwards' round was her par three on the downhill third hole, which is unforgiving to both hooks and slices.
La Conner coach Sean Skiles was clearly pleased afterward with the day's results.
"Jake has put in a lot of extra time this past year and is really hitting the ball well and with consistency," he said of Silva's round.
Skiles noted that Silva is just one of several key returnees from last year's league championship team, which should be further bolstered by the additions of Mathew Finley, Crawford Wilson, and Mike Wilbur.
Returning State qualifier Brendan McLeod was likewise splendid last week at Similk, firing a two-over 38.
"He's coming off a seventh place finish at State," Skiles said of McLeod, "and has been really working on his game."
Bobby Poulton, Spencer Finley, Bjorn Mejlaender, and General Cayou are also playing at a high level, according to Skiles.
Poulton and Mathew Finley recorded 42s their first time out.
"We may have one of the strongest and deepest teams in the state," Skiles said. "Perhaps some of the toughest competition we'll face this year is on our own team."
Skiles is equally encouraged by the Lady Braves' play.
"Hilary," he said of Edwards, "is really determined to make her first State appearance. She's playing very well."
Wyles and Amanda Hanstad return after nice campaigns a year ago.
"Both are really improving and hitting the ball well," said Skiles.
They and Edwards were joined at Similk by junior McKenzie Harrison, yet another Lady Brave golfer with plenty of upside.
"Our expectations for the year," Skiles said, "are definitely very high."
*In a related note: McLeod shot a 40 and claimed medalist honors in La Conner's recent boys' home match with Orcas. Silva carded a 41, while Wilbur and Matthew Finley shot 43s. Poulton and Mejlaender were five strokes back of McLeod, at 45. While Orcas didn't bring a girls' team to Similk, La Conner's Hilary Edwards and Amanda Hanstad each shot rounds. Edwards turned in a 49 and Hanstad finished at 57.   

Tourney Champs!
The La Conner Club Volleyball U16 (under 16) team won a 16-team tournament at Ferndale High School on Sunday. The championship match was played against Stanwood Volleyball Club and the La Conner team won 25-17, 16-25 and 15-5. Pictured here from left are Assistant Coach Nancy Anderson, Aubrey Stewart, Anna Cook, Kelly McClung, Carly Anderson, Katie Novak, Katie McKnight and Coach Bruce Entrikin.

Lady Braves able to clean up on rivals
By Bill Reynolds
The La Conner High softball team has a great sense of timing.
Last week the calendar turned to spring, and the Lady Braves went on a cleaning spree.
La Conner swept three key games, taking a doubleheader (14-2, 24-6) from Concrete and using a late rally to edge Orcas 8-7.
La Conner pitcher Emma Christianson tamed the Lady Lions on three hits while striking out five Concrete batters in the first game of the twinbill.
Taysha James and Lauren Reynolds paced the Braves' attack with three hits apiece. Two of James' safeties went for extra bases.
Olivia Hedlund was La Conner's top power hitter, driving in a team-best five runs on a double and triple.
Siomi Bobb laced a pair of singles for the winners.
"Overall, I thought the girls did a real good job of coming out and controlling the game from the start," Braves' head coach Michael Bliss said afterward. "We hit well, played solid defense, and Emma did a great job pitching."
It was pretty much the same formula in the nightcap.
Christianson scattered seven hits and again fanned five batters. She was backed by a flawless defensive effort as the Lady Braves committed no miscues.
Christianson and battery mate Hayleigh Summers were on the same page throughout the day, rarely falling behind hitters.
La Conner batters, on the other hand, often worked ahead in the count. As a team, the Lady Braves pounded out 17 hits.
Hedlund ripped five base hits, two of which were doubles. James went four-for-four at the plate, blasting a pair of round-trippers and driving in six runs.
Kelley McClung, Christianson, and Reynolds had two hits each, with Reynolds delivering a bases-loaded homer.
"I liked the way we came out and continued to play with energy until the end," said Bliss. "We never slowed down. The second game is always a tougher one to win in a doubleheader, and I think the team did a good job of making a mental adjustment."
Bliss was impressed with how well his club shook off a six-run Concrete rally in the opening stanza of the second game.
"We didn't quit when we got down early in the game," he said. "Instead we showed a lot of toughness."
That was also the case when La Conner faced Orcas in a clash that featured a playoff-type atmosphere.
The Lady Braves eventually won when Reynolds plated Christianson with a bases-loaded double in the final frame.
"This was a significant win for us," Bliss stressed. "We gave up six runs in the third inning and things weren't looking good for us. But we hung in there and scored nearly every inning.
"We stuck to our approach," said Bliss, "which was to get the lead back one run at a time.
"I was really glad," he said, "to see the team stay positive and confident."
Christianson went all seven innings, striking out 10 Lady Vikings to raise her season strikeout total to 27.
With the win, she remained perfect, 3-0,  in league mound decisions.
"Emma was able to battle and get through that tough third inning," Bliss said, "and she did such an amazing job of maintaining her composure. She gives us a chance to win every time we go out and play, and she definitely carried us through the entire (Orcas) game. I can't say enough about her performance."
Christianson was supported by McClung, who lined two base hits; Summers, who chipped in a single, walk, and was hit twice; and Hedlund, who was aboard four times.
Bliss was elated by McClung's outstanding glove work up the middle and his club's clutch hitting.
"Kelley has been so consistent at shortstop," he said. "She made several solid defensive plays against Orcas.
"And," he added, "it’s been great to see Lauren Reynolds driving in runs and hitting the ball well. She's stepped up and been playing well."
Bliss is hopeful the La Conner team can continue to blossom throughout the spring campaign.  
"It’s been really fun to watch the progress that this team has already made," he said Monday, "and I'm proud of the way they responded to the challenge posed by a tough Orcas team."

Photo by Karla Reynolds
Youthful Braves round into mid-season form
By Bill Reynolds
The new-look La Conner Braves are being thrown a lot of curves this spring.
And perhaps none more than the learning curve.
That was much in evidence during an up-and-down week in which La Conner routed Cedar Park 12-1 after splitting a twinbill (0-9, 7-3) with archrival Concrete.
The Braves parlayed nine first inning runs into a convincing 12-1 triumph over Cedar Park, which managed just seven hits against La Conner frosh hurlers Taylor Swanson and Erick Reinstra.
Tanner Cyr paced the Braves' attack with a pair of singles and two free passes. Wil James and Hayden Schmidt each ripped RBI safeties for the victors.
The Braves enter a tough stretch of their schedule after having been blanked in the league-game half of doubleheader with Concrete.
La Conner did come back to edge the Lions in the nightcap, a game in which the Braves went the small ball route to jump-start their offense.
"We were able to find ways to get on base and were aggressive running the bases to get our offense going," La Conner coach Jeremiah LeSourd said afterward.
The Braves are slated to resume play 1 p.m. on April 2 at Mount Baker and at noon on April 3 at home opposite Squalicum.
Both should be key tests for the youthful Braves, whom LeSourd notes have thus far proved to be quick studies.
"Our team is young," he stressed earlier this week, "and everyone is learning their role. Our inexperience has showed at times, but we're learning quickly."      

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