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High School | General | 3/4/2019

A lot to like at Seattle Lakeside

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Corbin Carroll (Lakeside HS Baseball)

2019 Perfect Game High School Preview Index

The high school baseball experience can be fleeting, and as Perfect Game All-American centerfielder Corbin Carroll prepares to take in his final season at Lakeside High School in Seattle, he’s determined to get as much out of this last go-around as possible.

It’s a career that started with a trip to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Class 3A state championship game as a freshman in 2016 followed by two more state tournament trips during Carroll’s sophomore and junior seasons. They are experiences he’s enjoyed alongside a core group of four other 2019 seniors, and ones he’ll carry with him well into the next phase of his baseball-playing life, where ever that might be.

“These last three years at Lakeside – going on four – have been really formative for me,” Carroll told PG late last week. “I’ve been very fortunate to have some great mentors like Ryan Shaw my freshman year and Zane Baker last year, just really great guys both on and off the field; they’ve really shown me how to conduct my business.”

Over the last three years, very few high school players have conducted their business as well as Carroll, a five-tool talent PG ranks as the No. 6 overall prospect in the national class of 2019. He is a UCLA recruit who seems certain to become the first Washington state prep selected in the first round of the MLB June Amateur Draft since the Pirates grabbed 2012 PGAA catcher Reese McGuire with the 14th overall pick in 2013 out Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash.

But this report isn’t about the Draft, it’s about Carroll and his senior cohorts at Lakeside – right-hander/corner-infielder Jared Feikes, first baseman/outfielder Luke Porter, catcher/second baseman William DeForest and right-hander/infielder Jackson Andrews – looking to make a run back to the WIAA Class 3A state championship game and this time bringing home the gold.

Lakeside will open its season March 11 as the No. 6-ranked team in the PG High School Northwest Region (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming) and third in Washington behind Seattle-area schools No. 1 Puyallup and No. 4 Skyline.

Feikes moved into the Seattle area right in front of his freshman year in high school and pitched on the varsity and played in the field with the JV team during the 2016 season.

“At Lakeside we’re a 1A, 2A type school playing in the 3A division … and every year we’ve just gotten new arms and a new pitcher steps up to replace the guys who have left,” he told PG last week. “We’ve just been really lucky to get a lot of new pitchers and obviously guys like Corbin and other guys from the past that have produced on the offensive end.

“The biggest thing in our program is that our coach, Kellen Sundin, really emphasizes a defense-fist mentality of no errors and keeping the infield and the outfield clean defensively.”

The 2019 season will be Sundin’s third as the head coach and his seventh at the school. He was on the coaching staff in 2016 when the Lions finished as the 3A state runner-up and when this year’s seniors were freshman.

The program had enjoyed moderate success up to that point but has really taken off in the last three years with records of 22-5, 18-6 and 18-5 with Carroll on the varsity roster. The Lions benefitted from some sound senior leadership on those teams, but this year’s seniors are special, according to Sundin.

Carroll, Sundin told PG, had an immediate impact on the program as a freshman starter. The other seniors played mostly on the JV team when they were freshman but became key contributors the following season as sophomores.

“Corbin’s class has taken it to another level; they’ve kind of been good since they got here,” Sundin said. “This senior class is probably the best one we’ve had in school history.”

Lakeside is a small school enrollment-wise and, in fact, Sundin said it should be playing at the Class 1A level. The baseball team opts to play-up in Class 3A simply because the other Seattle schools – including the private schools – play in that classification.

The limited number of students – there are about 140 in each class, 9 through 12, and half of them are girls – means there is a limited number of athletes available to fill a roster in the first place. That problem is compounded by the fact that Lakeside fields several other successful boys’ spring sports programs – soccer, lacrosse, track and field, tennis, etc. – so the entire baseball program will end up with only five, six or seven players per grade.

“There’s not a lot of depth; we’re not cutting a lot of kids from the program,” Sundin said with a laugh. “We’re happy to take anybody we can get.”

Sundin said the Seattle area had what he called an “interesting” February weather-wise, with an unusually large amount of snow that resulted in the school being closed for six snow days. The weather improved quite a bit last week and the team was even able to get outside a little bit for its first few days of practice.

“There’s still a little snow on the side of the fields but we’ve been able to get out there and do everything that we wanted to do,” he added. “I’m not complaining because usually this time of year I’m fighting rain, and we haven’t had any of that, which is nice.” And now, the Lions are ready to get after it.

 

… … …


LAKESIDE HIGH SCHOOL IS AN INTERESTING PLACE, SITTING INLAND ABOUT EQUAL DISTANCE
from Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the east. It was established in 1919 so it’s an older school and boasts a prominent alumni list that includes a former Washington governor in Booth Gardner, film makers and producers, singers and songwriters, entrepreneurs and people who have reached dizzying heights: think Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

“I really don’t know the person that I’d be without having been surrounded by the people I’ve been around at Lakeside,” Carroll said. “Lakeside itself has just taught me so many things with the rigor and the people; it’s really formed me, for sure.”

Academic performance rules the roost at Lakeside and athletic pursuits gladly take a backseat which is, perhaps, the way it should be. But that doesn’t mean the current students – the leaders of tomorrow – can’t excel at both as long they’re willing to put the time in.

“I don’t have any kids that are snoozing through the school day just waiting to get to baseball practice,” Sundin said. “Every one of our kids is a pretty high academic kid … and that changes a lot of things.”

Sundin said he’s sure his practice times are shorter than any other school in Lakeside’s league – he tries to keep it under 90 minutes – because the school’s administration wants him to be mindful of what the student’s academic workload is.

“It’s part of the deal around here,” he said. “People don’t come here unless they’re serious about the academic side, and they’re not going to (be enrolled) unless they’re serious about that. … But this is a great place. I love coaching here and I’ve got great support for these students, great academic support; I couldn’t ask for better support.”

The demands on the academic side carry over onto the school’s playing fields, and that helps develop a championship attitude.

“I think a lot of it has to do with coach Sundin implementing a strong work ethic in practice,” Feikes said. “Lakeside is a really rigorous school academically and I think just from that alone, all the kids that come to Lakeside are extremely self-driven to get better and succeed in life.”

Carroll concurred: “First of all, this is a very academic school and so that’s one thing that really unites all of us,” he said. “We’re a really hard-working group and it’s really fun to be a part of (something) when everyone around you wants to be there … and wants to contribute and do everything they can to be better.”

Sundin is not a  graduate of Lakeside HS, but he’s known of the school his entire life having graduated from Seattle Prep, one of Lakeside’s biggest rivals in the 3A Metro League. So what about that league? Well, it’s made up of 10 Seattle public schools and another six private schools, and it’s super competitive.

“My feeling is that anybody that can get out of the Metro League tournament has a shot to contend for a state championship,” Sundin said. “We’ve had teams that haven’t made it out over the past few years that I thought could have done some damage at the state level; there’s not enough berths at state to represent the quality of our league.”

With the Lions’ varsity teams having posted a combined record of 58-16 the last three years, any improvement this season might get lost in the shuffle. To counter that, the coaching staff has talked to the players about focusing on what’s in front of them right now.

“The accomplishments that we’ve had the last three years have truly been a product of being a hard-working, blue collar team, having a good team culture and good chemistry, and let’s not lose sight of those things because they helped us get to where we wanted to be,” Sundin told his players.

And while the head coach really likes his 2019 seniors he is quick to point out he graduated some pretty good seniors off of last year’s team, including his entire infield of Zane Baker, Andrew Chen, Charlie Wright and Angus Dillon.

That means, of course, that the Lions’ infield this season will be populated with first-time varsity starters; sophomore Maple Moody could possibly lead the way.

“We talked about those guys being the best versions of themselves that they can be and not try to be the people that were in those spots the last two years because they’re not going to be those guys,” Sundin said. “I talked to Jared and Corbin and the captains about them encouraging those younger players along because for our senior class to get to where they want to get, they’re going to need help from those younger guys; they can’t do it themselves.”

While there may be times that it seems like Carroll – the MVP at last summer’s nationally televised PG All-American Classic in San Diego – can do it himself, that’s just not the case. Feikes understands that and noted that the other seniors are dialed in on this season while also looking forward to college careers next year.

Carroll, as noted, has signed with UCLA and is a top MLB Draft prospect; Feikes has signed with Santa Clara; DeForest with Claremont (Calif.) McKenna College and Andrews with Occidental College in Los Angeles; Porter is still mulling his options. But in the here and now, college can wait. There’s still one more high school season left to play.

“I love putting on the Lakeside jersey,” Feikes said. “My summer coach told me that your high school teammates are the best teammates you’ll have throughout your life so you need to take advantage of it. I just love going out there with my best friends … and especially at Lakeside it’s a different mindset being a part of a group of guys who are successful in the classroom and on the field.”

Added Carroll: “We’ve been fortunate to have great leaders here and we’re just trying to keep that tradition going. I think the best thing about the seniors this year is that they’re really great guys and they’re my best friends; just really great people who work so hard.

“I can’t think of anyone who I’ve seen improve more than Luke Porter. I think he came into Lakeside at about 150-pounds and he’s put on 60 solid, good pounds, and it’s just been really cool to watch.”

… … …


THE YOUNG BASEBALL TALENT IN THE PGHS NORTHWEST REGION IS LARGELY
concentrated in Washington, with eight prospects from the class of 2019 ranked in the top 457 nationally; four of the top 2020s are ranked in the top 416 in the country.

Listed among those top 2019s are Skyline HS outfielder Cole Hinkelman (No. 51-ranked) and Davis HS (Yakima) first baseman Henry Gargus (No. 55), both Stanford signees who were West teammates of Carroll’s at the PG All-American Classic.

In the PGHS Northwest Region Preview, Carroll, Hinkelman and Gargus were all named to the “Dream Team”, Carroll was cited as the “Best Hitter for Average”, the “Best Baserunner”, “Best Defensive Outfielder” and “Best Outfield Arm”; Gargus was the region’s “Best Hitter for Power.”

“I started playing with (Carroll) during summer ball when we were 13,” Gargus told PG last summer. “We’ve always just been close and we’ve become a lot closer these past three years with summer ball and showcases. We’ve been training together and we always push each other. I love that guy; he’s a great guy.”

Carroll doesn’t feel like he’s been disadvantaged in the least by playing his high school baseball in a part of the country that doesn’t always enjoy the nicest weather during the spring. In fact, he tries to use it to his advantage.

“I think the best thing for me about playing up here has been teaching me to take advantage of each and every time I go out on the field,” Carroll said. “ It is a little bit more limited up here, and in the fall and the winter I’m just itching to get back out there on the field, so every time I get out there it just gives me that mentality to give it my best every time. …

“Anyone who watches me play sees that high level of energy,” he added. “Ad lot of that is self-motivated but at the same time a lot of that is a product of my environment, for sure.”

When Coach Sundin speaks about Carroll – something he said he could do all day long if he was asked to – it is with a tone of admiration and appreciation in his voice. The physical attributes are obvious, Sundin said, but what’s easiest for him to talk about is just how good of a kid Carroll is.

According to Sundin, he is the hardest worker in the program, a statement the humble Carroll would probably dispute. He’s been surrounded by other outstanding players both at his high school and during the summer at PG and USA Baseball events that have helped fuel his drive to be the best he can be but, Sundin said, he’s never come across another athlete who pushes himself more than Carroll does.

“He’s as committed to baseball as any kid that I’ve been around,” Sundin said. “When you’ve got a guy setting an example like that for the rest of the program, everybody can see the time and energy that can go into it, and that drives other people.”

Added Feikes: “I’ve played every high school season that I’ve had with Corbin. I’m extremely lucky to be around a guy that is extremely self-driven and disciplined, and to see his work ethic and to see him in the middle of the day pushing himself out on the field is incredible.”

Carroll was one of three team captains on last year’s Lakeside team, the only junior among the trio; he’ll have the capital “C” next to his name again this season. He’s well-respected, obviously, and his coach said he is captain in the “lead-by-example” variety and not necessarily a vocal, rah-rah type of guy.

Sundin acknowledges that there are a lot of distractions in his young star’s life at the moment, but Carroll and his family have handled the distractions with aplomb. Corbin’s goal right now, according to his coach, is to have as productive of a senior season as he possibly can and provide as much leadership for his teammates as he possibly can.

It’s a sentiment shared by all the seniors on this Lakeside team. As Feikes said, it’s a small school where everyone knows and supports one another, and the relationships that have formed are, in his word, “incredible.”

“It’s the people you’ve grown up with these last four years; I’ve been through it all with them,” Carroll concluded. “I’m really going to cherish every opportunity I have to go out on the field this year because I won’t get those opportunities in the future to go out and play with my best friends. It’s definitely a different feeling going out there.”



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