Sports Zone

Drifters at full strength – finally

SPRINGFIELD – Drifters head coach Tommy Richards wears the team’s uniform at each game, just like other managers. It might be just as appropriate if he wore a white lab coat. 

Richards has been piecing together a roster the first few weeks of the season with several players still missing due to extended college postseason obligations. Now, he must integrate a new wave of players into a cohesive team. 

“It wasn’t clean. It wasn’t necessarily the best route to a victory, but I’m proud of them for coming together and just staying in the fight, and then finishing the job at the end,” Richards said last Thursday after the Drifters defeated Wenatchee 10-8, salvaging a win after losing the first two games. “The first few games were unique, because it’s like a first time look at some of the more permanent players. We had 17 guys that came in on day one, and then a few more sprinkling in throughout the series.”

It’s not an easy task to integrate players into the team in the middle of a series. There are many elements to combine and consider – from logistics to player workloads to ensuring teammates mesh.

“We have to learn a little bit about what each guy can do, and redo that process of getting to know people,” Richards said. “There’s still a lot of work to do. That’s for sure.”

It’s a different kind of work that Richards does during the college season as head coach of the Bushnell Beacons program. The college season is much more structured and solid than a summer wooden-bat league.

“It’s unique. I mean, it’s different than anything that’s going on during the college season. The college group, you get them in the fall, and you have them the whole way through spring. And so it’s a little bit kind of more transactional,” he said. “With the summer league, you got the team dynamic, and how everybody fits together. Some of that stuff takes time. It’s a bit of a learning curve every day, just trying to get the group around each other and spending more time together.”

As Richards continues to tinker with team chemistry, it’s been a much better start to this season than last year in large part because of this team’s ability to gel so quickly. The Drifters finished 17-37 in their inaugural season. This year though, they’re out to a 7-4 start; last year they had 12 losses before earning their seventh victory.

“I think that a lot of it just comes down to familiarity, and belief that our processes and players are capable of winning games and competing,” Richards said. “Last year, it seemed like we had pieces, but it never really came together. There was never a synergy. It was kind of a fragmented type of effort. …I think now it’s the piece of knowing that you can do it. Trust in the processes and enjoy the competition.”

Richards said the message moving forward has been a simple one.

“I think we have to continue to pitch and play defense. It’s clear to me that we’re winning all the games that we’re getting good pitching in,” he said. “Offensively, I think we need to just keep our foot on the gas as far as manufacturing runs and not being too hesitant to lay a bunt down or hit and run or steal.”

After the Wenatchee series, the Drifters headed up to Portland Saturday-Monday to take on the Pickles in what turned out to be a wild weekend. In Game One on Saturday the Drifters led 8-0, but the Pickles came back and tied it 9-9 to send the game into extra innings. In the bottom of the 12th inning, the stadium lights shut off right as the Drifters were throwing a pitch.

Unable to get the lights back on, the game was postponed and scheduled to finish Sunday. However, Sunday and Monday’s games were canceled due to weather, so the game remains tied 9-9 until further notice.

Drifters celebrate Thurston Colts Baseball

Thurston pitcher Connor Molony (left) and Drifters catcher Ryne Hays pose together. Molony threw out the first pitch in last Tuesday’s Springfield Drifters game as the State Champion Colts were honored before the game.

Drifters results/schedule, line scores

Results/Schedule

Tuesday, June 13

Wenatchee 4, Springfield 2

Wednesday, June 14

Wenatchee 11, Springfield 3

Thursday, June 15

Springfield 10, Wenatchee 8

Saturday, June 17

Springfield 9, Portland 9

Thursday, June 22

Bend Elks at Springfield Drifters, 6:35 p.m.

Friday, June 23

Cowlitz Black Bears at Springfield Drifters, 6:35 p.m.

Saturday, June 24

Cowlitz Black Bears at Springfield Drifters, 6:35 p.m.

Sunday, June 25

Cowlitz Black Bears at Springfield Drifters, 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday, June 27

Springfield Drifters at Corvallis Knights, 6:35 p.m.

Wednesday, June 28

Corvallis Knights at Springfield Drifters, 6:35 p.m.

Thursday, June 29

Springfield Drifters at Corvallis Knights, 6:35 p.m.

Line Scores

Game One, Tuesday, June 13

Wenatchee 4

Springfield 2

At Hamlin

Wenatchee     0 0 0   2 0 0   0 2 0 –  4  9  1

Springfield      0 1 0   1 0 0   0 0 0 –  2  7  0

WP-J. Williamson. LP-B. Armstrong

Wenatchee: 3B-E. Amundson. HR-B. Ponce. RBI-E. Amundson, B. Ponce (2), M. Harrison. SB-M. Lipsey (3). Team LOB-8.

Springfield: 2B-R. Cooney. RBI-D. Santana. SB-D. Santana, R. DeAngelis. Team LOB-11.

Game Two, Wednesday, June 14

Wenatchee 11,

Springfield 3

Wenatchee    5 0 0   6 0 0   0 0 0 – 11  8  0

Springfield     0 0 1   0 1 1   0 0 0 –  3 11  0

WP-B. Boyd. LP-H. Dryden

Wenatchee: 2B-F. Carney, E. Amundson, B. Ponce. HBP-F. Carney, M. Lipsey. RBI-M. Lipsey, E. Amundson (2), B. Ponce (2), R. Boyd (3), T. Helm (2). Team LOB-7.

Springfield: 2B-R. Kellum, B. Newton. RBI-J. Longo (2), B. Newton. SB-D. Santana, B. Blandford. Team LOB-10.

Game Three, Thursday, June 15

Springfield 10,

Wenatchee 8

Wenatchee   0 2 2   0 3 0   0 0 1 –  8 14  3

Springfield    0 3 1   3 0 3   0 0 x – 10 12  0

WP-Z. Ediger. LP-J. Pearson. S-L. Parker

Wenatchee: 2B-I. Lopez. HBP-M. Harrison, I. Lopez. HR-E. Amundson, R. Boyd. RBI-E. Amundson (2), B. Ponce, I. Lopez (2), R. Boyd (2). SB-F. Carney. Team LOB-8.

Springfield: 2B-B. Newton. RBI-C. Kleckner, D. Santana, J. Longo, R. DeAngelis (2), B. Leitgeb, J. Miller, B. Newton (2). SB-J. Miller, B. Newton. Team LOB-10.

Game One, Saturday, June 17

Portland 9

Springfield 9

At Walker Stadium

Game postponed due to lights shutting off in the stadium in the 12th inning.

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