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Bling, returns and departures for Mount Si baseball dream team
A Wildcat reunion was already in progress by the time Coach Elliott Cribby arrived, carrying a large tray of palm-sized cardboard boxes.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Cribby explained. “These kids have been calling and texting me.”
But on Tuesday, Aug. 16, it was time: “You get your bling,” Cribby told the assembled 2011 Mount Si baseball team, handing out big, solid state championship rings, a final memento of the team’s nailbiter win at Tacoma last June.
Team members excitedly slid them onto ring fingers, testing the fits. When one player dropped his, it clattered off the aluminum bleachers with a resounding clang.
Following a team photo session, the players still couldn’t take their eyes off the weighty jewelry in their hands.
“I’m going to keep this forever,” said ex-Cat Justin Blenheim. “I’ll probably wear it sometimes. Other than that, it’s never going to leave my shelf.”
With school around the corner, and many of this spring’s champs on their way to college, players also got a kick out of the reunion moment.
“We’ve done so much bonding,” Blenheim said. “It doesn’t even feel like the season’s over. We’re a big family.”
Several ‘Cats wore T-shirts emblazoned “21 Outs.” The name of a ball-can’t-fall drill used by the team, 21 outs also echoes that final championship game, in which the Wildcats triumphed over Shorewood.
“Everywhere it seems like I go, somebody talks about that game,” Cribby said. “Even people who weren’t there... There was a higher power floating around that day. We played hard to the very last out.”
Cribby ascribed success to a system that emphasized hard work. The boys, he added, fully bought into it.
“What was done was really special.”
Next spring, Cribby stands to benefit from what was done this year. He can claim seven returners from the championship team, including the entire pitching bench with final-game-vets Reece Karalus and Trevor Taylor.
Parent and community involvement is strong. Team parent Ken Sinner helped pay for the championship rings. Other donations will give the Mount Si diamond a stronger stadium look, with black backboards with red highlights.
“Now that we can add a state championship to the board,” a face lift is in order, Cribby explained.
Changes, too, are coming. Cribby is losing his pitching coach, Pete Wilkinson, an Edmonds resident who has accepted the head coaching position at KingCo rival Bellevue. Parents sent up a chorus of boos when they heard, but Wilkinson left them with fond words.
“This is a group that I will remember forever,” he said. “This has been one of the special times in my life.”
The first thing he was asked at Bellevue, he said, was ‘How are we going to beat these guys?’
Cribby, too, was approached with offers, but says he’s staying put.
“I like it up here, I want to be here for a long time. There’s a lot of potential.” His long-term goal is a staff job at Mount Si.
“That will come,” he said.
For now, thoughts are turning to the future. Returning ‘Cats excitedly debated whether they should wear their rings to practice next spring.
“It’s been a great summer,” Cribby said. “We’re going to get ready to do it all over again.”