Welcome back to what is sure to be another exciting season of AquaSox baseball!
Fans will recall the amazing season packed with almost nothing but highs, culminating in a wondrous playoff appearance including a game at Safeco Field in Seattle. While the 2016 AquaSox season didn’t end with a title, Everett certainly provided their fans an amazing summer for all ages. Everett is prepared for another action-packed year as the schedule is set for another run at the playoffs.
Before we look ahead to what’s next, let’s take some time to relive the memories of last summer.
With Short-Season, one thing to remember is that these players don’t get the luxury of a Spring Training. Most of the roster is composed of drafted players who typically meet each other 48 hours before their first game.
There’s no time to learn each other’s quirks and styles before diving into the season proper. Last season began with a season ticket holder BBQ, and it gave fans the opportunity to meet the newly arrived players. It was 50 degrees, raining (typical Pacific Northwest summer), and some of the players from tropical locales were looking around wondering what they got themselves into.
Facing this challenge, they started slow, with the team riding to a first-half tie with the Spokane Indians. They finished at 19-19, right at .500. But the second half of the season the team found their groove and sailed to a 27-11 record to take the 2nd half crown and earned a match-up with the Spokane Indians for the 1st round in the playoffs.
August was truly their month to shine. With the Northwest League’s All-Star break over which 5 players making the roster, Eric Filia, Brandon Miller, Donnie Walton, Ljay Newsome and Kyle Lewis, the Sox came together as a team and tore through the competition, having a 19-8 stretch through the month. Overpowering play guaranteed their slot in the playoffs, as the next two teams in the division finished with only 15 wins.
Hosting the Spokane Indians in a 3-game series, the first game wound up being rescheduled due to a thunderstorm in the area. Game 1 occurred in Spokane, where the AquaSox quickly jumped to a 5-1 lead by the 4th inning. They would wind up winning 8-5.
Game 2 of the series fell to one of the more interesting points of last season. Due to the weather delay, they were offered the opportunity to play in Safeco Field. It was the dream of many players to play on the hallowed Major League ground, and the Sox rose to the challenge. Behind the arm of Matthew Festa, they shut out the Indians 8-0 and clinched their spot in the NWL Finals.
The Eugene Emeralds were waiting for them in the Championship series, and they were a very strong team. The Emeralds and the Sox had split their series during the regular season 5-5, so it was an even matchup. The Emeralds took a quick lead by winning Game 1 in Everett. However in Game 2 behind the strong effort and leadership of NWL MVP Eric Filia, the Frogs rose to the occasion and won 7-1 and forced a deciding Game 3.
Game 3 was a hard fought contest, the kind you would expect from two excellent teams with everything on the line. The AquaSox had a chance to score a second run, but ultimately couldn’t beat the call at the plate. The Sox wound up falling 2-1 to end their season.
While the ending result wasn’t the championship, it was still an amazing year full of plenty of accomplishments and exciting steps forward by the young players.
The roster ultimately was full of young stars, from Nick Zammarelli at 3rd base to Kyle Lewis in the outfield. Players like Bryson Brigman at short and a fierce trio on the mound of Ljay Newsome, Matthew Festa and Brandon Miller, all players you will definitely hear more from someday in the future. Too many players to name here, but there were outstanding contributions by all the players last season.
While we wish all these players well in their careers and hope to see them someday in Seattle, there were a lot of appearances last year by some current Seattle regulars who were working their way back from injury. The King himself, Felix Hernandez graced us with his presence on July 10 for a rehab start before returning to Safeco Field. Other Mariners on that visited Everett Memorial Stadium included: Steve Cishek, Ketel Marte, Charlie Furbush, Nick Vincent and Wade Miley.
With a revamped Mariners front office in control down the road for the parent club, it appears the Mariners like Everett as a convenient location to rehabilitate their players. This season we may see some more, and it offers a great chance to get up close and personal to some of your favorite Mariners.
As far as off field entertainment, there will be plenty of traditions that were continued from last year. One that’s grown over the past few years is the Star Wars Night,. Previously, the Jet City Saber Guild saved Webbly from the Dark Side, preventing the emergence of Darth Webbly. The players even got involved with theme jerseys and rooted for Webbly in the lightsaber battles. Fireworks nights continue to be a big hit with the AquaSox putting on some of the best shows available in the area.
This year we’re planning big things and hope to see you out here at the park regularly! Come spend your summer nights at the ballpark and watch the new 2017 Everett AquaSox fight for the title this year!
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