A large bus pulled up to Ravensdale Park on a record 79-degree afternoon on March 19 close to 18 miles from the Mount Si High School campus.
One by one, Wildcats varsity baseball players piled out of the bus before making their way toward Mount Si Wildcats baseball head coach Brent Lutz’s truck. Lutz, who drove behind the team bus en route to the practice session, transported a plethora of practice gear to the Wildcats’ home away from home. As players unloaded Lutz’s truck full of gear and quickly hurried to the field for practice, Lutz discussed the unique circumstances his team deals with.
The Wildcats, who lost their home baseball field prior to the 2017 season because of the current construction of the new Mount Si High School, are playing their home games at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue for the third consecutive year this spring. The Wildcats split their practice sessions between Bannerwood Park and Ravensdale Park throughout the year as well.
“This is our third season of the bus brigade. All of this driving makes it really interesting,” Lutz said with a smile. “Today we left at 2:30 p.m. and because of traffic we didn’t get here until 3:15 p.m. We missed some practice time and there is literally no going over (time frame) because our field rental ends at 5 p.m. Right after us is a lacrosse team, so we have to get off the field really fast. We have to (be) pretty crisp in our practices to get stuff done.”
While the Wildcats don’t have a home field in the Snoqualmie/North Bend region, they are proud to call Bannerwood Park their temporary home. Bannerwood, which is located one mile north of the Factoria Mall in Bellevue, is one of the best baseball facilities on the Eastside.
“It has been a great relationship with those guys (Seattle University’s home field is Bannerwood Park). Seattle U has been just great. They’ve added some things to the field like covered batting cages, which we have taken advantage of. It has worked out pretty well. You can’t ask for more,” Lutz said. “If you’re going to have a replacement for your park, there is not a better one than Bannerwood to get.”
Being on the road consistently for the past few years has taught the Wildcats myriad life lessons.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us in KingCo (Conference). It’s a tough league. It is all about perseverance. There is basically no excuses. We make the best of every option,” Lutz said.
Lutz said the 2019 season will be the final year his team will take its show on the road for all practices and home games.
“Our new field should be ready for the opening of the 2020 season next year. We will have a beautiful of Mount Si out there in the outfield,” he said.