Competing in playoff games might be a new experience for the Foster baseball team, but it’s one they’re loving.
The Bulldogs finished in last place last year and managed just two wins. This year, the team made it all the way to the district tournament.
“It’s huge progress for our program,” said first-year Foster coach Eric Hall. “Nobody on our team had ever played in a playoff game before.”
The Bulldogs went 7-14 this season after losing to North Kitsap in the second round of the West Central District 2A tournament May 12. While the team’s season is over, it was certainly one to remember.
Much of the team’s success revolves around its only senior – shortstop, captain and leadoff hitter Joel Gonzalez.
“He’s been an incredible leader,” Hall said. “The makeup of our team has been very important. They’re not arguing and they’re there to pick each other up. That starts with Joel. He really gets things going for us.”
Gonzalez led the team with a .478 batting average and got on base at a .586 clip. His 16 runs also led the team.
The Bulldogs have not made the district tournament since 1998, also their last time going to state. The team struggled out of the gate this year, starting 2-8. At that point the group’s cohesiveness kept them strong.
“At that point a lot of teams would just give up,” Hall said. “We looked at our schedule and saw the next few games are winnable.”
From that point on, the team went 5-6, including a 1-1 record in the sub-district tournament. The 5-1 win against Eatonville May 4 was the first playoff win for any player on the team.
“We showed up and it was a beautiful field, under the lights,” Hall said. “It felt completely different. I had been telling them all week long that this is a game you’re going to remember for the rest of your life … Then we came out focused and that was the best game we’ve played all year long.”
Max Montoya had two RBI in the game, while Connor Forsyth stole two bases and scored two runs. Alex De La Torre pitched a complete game for the win.Hall said the game meant a lot to Gonzalez.
“He’s done everything this program has asked of him for the past four years and never been to the playoffs,” he said. “It’s a nice way to go out for him.”
Forsyth, a sophomore, has been another key player. Not a natural catcher, Hall put him there because of need, and Forysth’s athleticism.
“He’s really developed into a good catcher,” Hall said. “And he’s developed into our No. 2 pitcher too, which is impressive for a sophomore.”Forsyth led the team with 14 RBI and his .274. His 10 steals also led the team.
De La Torre, a junior, has been the team’s ace. He has 46 strikeouts in 43.2 innings, with two wins.