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The Timberwolves started the week with a record of 10-2 and atop the OSAA 6A rankings.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Tualatin's Sy Sullivan winds to throw a pitch during the Timberwolves' game against West Linn Tuesday, April 19, at Tualatin High School.It's been a heck of a year thus far for Tualatin High School boys athletics, with the football team making it to the 6A state title game and the boys basketball team winning a state title by defeating Summit in last month's championship game at the Chiles Center in Portland.

As a result, the Timberwolves baseball team is aiming high as well, and head coach Jake Austin believes this year's earlier school success can help them get where they're hoping to go later.

"The success of the other sports at our school has set the bar high," Austin said. "A lot of our kids got to be a part of those runs as a player or fan which makes them want to be a part of it again. We are doing our best to focus on what is in front of us and not think too far down the road because if we do that we give ourselves the chance to reach our potential as a team."

Entering last week's play Tualatin was 10-2 and found themselves atop the OSAA 6A's rankings. While not surprised, Austin said he and his staff have been pleased with what they've seen from the team to this point.

"We are very happy with the team's start to the season," the coach said. "They have been playing together and bringing good energy day in and day out. That and their ability to play as a team and support one another has been the key thus far, but we are still focusing on taking the game pitch by pitch and inning by inning."

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Tualatin senior catcher Michael Miller takes a cut during the Timberwolves' game against West Linn Tuesday, April 19, at Tualatin High School.The Wolves lost a lot of pitching to graduation last spring and this season have filled those holes with new talent. Senior Sy Sullivan, junior Logan Larrance and senior Ryan Morrison have gotten all but one start for Tualatin, with Larrance allowing just two earned runs in 24 innings pitched. But Austin said this team's strength lies in it ability to be sound both offensively, defensively, as well as on the mound.

"We are a well-balanced team who has the ability to play all three phases of the game," he said. "We have good depth with different guys leading us from game to game."

Which is why the coach had a hard time singling guys out, citing a collective approach to team leadership.

"Our identity is playing together as a team with passion and energy," Austin said. "They don't care who gets the credit as long as the team is successful."

He did however point out a couple of underclassmen who've impressed thus far: sophomore Ethan Matsuoka and freshman first baseman Isaac Pfeifer.

The coach said that Pfeifer's energy has been off the charts and the team on many occasions has fed off the youngster's upbeat approach, and added that Matsuoka—like most shortstops—has been a key piece to what so far has been a pretty good puzzle.

"Ethan has been great on both sides of the ball," Austin said. "You have to have a steady shortstop to be able to compete at a high level."

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Tualatin senior catcher Michael Miller watches his fly ball to right field as he races to first during the Timberwolves' game against West Linn Tuesday, April 19, at Tualatin High School.You also need seniors, and Austin said that with 12 of their 17 varsity players being just that, he and his staff have enjoyed watching the experience lead the way.

"Having a senior heavy team has been a lot of fun," he said. "They understand what our expectations are and bring a maturity to the field that makes our job easy as coaches. They know we compete in one of the toughest leagues in the state and we have to bring it day in and day out to compete."

And where will that leave them when the dust settles? There's no way to tell, but the coach knows they'll be working to make the most of what they have—together.

"Our main goal is to get better every day and put ourselves in a position to reach our potential as a team."


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