Baseball

Joe Schactler takes a practice swing.

By Saturday afternoon James Arnold is hoping his team will not be a chapter in Kodiak baseball history.

After starting the season with four straight losses, the Bears sit three losses away from the worst start in program history as they welcome West Valley to the island for a three-game series starting at 5 p.m. today.

“As soon as we get a victory, I think we will break the fever and continue to have fun and be successful,” Arnold said.

In 2005 — a year after winning the state title with a 17-0 record — Kodiak dropped its first six games, which stands as the worst start in program history. That team ended 12-8 and a victory away from advancing to the state tournament.

This year’s team nearly picked up a win in its last game against Dimond on the final day of the Rex Edward Matautia Invitational Tournament. The Lynx scored two runs with two outs in the seventh to steal an 8-7 victory away from the Bears.

“What I saw in the last game really encouraged me, because I think they finally woke up and started playing together,” Arnold said.

Kodiak started the tournament with losses to Dimond, Chugiak and South Anchorage.

West Valley, a Fairbanks-based school, will be making its inaugural trip to Kodiak. The last meeting between the two schools was in 2009 in a game West Valley won 6-1 in Fairbanks.

The Wolfpack, out of the Mid Alaska Conference, will be making their season debut today. They are coming off a seventh-place finish at last year’s state tournament.

This will be Kodiak’s final tune-up before opening Southcentral Conference play on April 24 against Soldotna.

Arnold is looking for his team to compete during the three-game set. Friday’s game begins at 4 p.m., while Saturday’s starts at 10:30 a.m.

“We have to play to our level and our ability,” Arnold said. “Rather we are playing the Atlanta Braves or West Valley, we have to play to our ability.”

New coach

Sitka, the defending state champions, opened the season against Lathrop with a new head coach.

Former Sitka star Matt Way, 28, took over for Ed Conway who coached the Wolves to four state championships in 20 seasons.

Sitka defeated Lathrop 10-0 and 10-9 in nonconference games.

In 2005, Way outdueled Kodiak’s Mark Putney in a 1-0 game played in Sitka.

Way no-hit Kodiak, struck out 17 and walked three. Putney allowed four hits, struck out eight and walked two.

Way later pitched for Washington State University and played professionally until injuries forced him to retire in 2014.

Derek Clarkston is a staff writer at the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact him at (907) 486-3227, ext. 625.

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