Bells baseball returns to Bellingham in 2015 with momentum, after claiming the franchise's first West Coast League championship in 2014. In his first season with the Bells, manager Jeff James led his squad to the championship in what was a thrilling summer of baseball at Joe Martin Field. “It was a special group of guys who worked incredibly hard,” James said.
James credited long-time Bells pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Jim Clem saying, “Coach Clem brought in talented arms.” One of those arms was West Coast League Pitcher of the Year Seth Martinez, who contributed to what Coach Clem called a “magical season that no one on that team will forget.”
The Bells will be returning five players from last season’s championship run. Speaking to a team philosophy, Coach Clem stated, “We always like to return a few guys each year to show the incoming guys the Bells' way.”
Of these, several are looking to break team records. Outfielder Walker Olis stands just three doubles shy of the team’s all–time mark. Joining Olis in the pursuit of team records will be Dustin Breshears and Lou Della Fera. Breshears stands four triples shy of breaking the team mark and 23 RBIs away from claiming the franchise top spot. Lou Della Fera, who earned a reputation as a pesky hitter last summer, is 22 walks shy of tallying the most walks in team history.
Della Fera and Olis will be joined by Aaron Stroosma in the outfield. All three will bring great athleticism and quickness. “These guys will be able to track down some fly balls. That speed should play offensively as well,” Coach Clem said.
Offensively, speed will play at the top of the lineup with power in the middle. “This team should have a good mix of both speed and power,” Clem said.
Like many Bells teams that came before them, the 2014 Bells had a strong foundation of pitching and defense. Their staff ERA and opponent batting average were the lowest in the West Coast League, a key component behind a season with the the most wins in franchise history, 37. “Last season, we received quality start after quality start along with solid defense, and that’s going to win you some games,” said Coach James.
One of the leaders of the pitching staff will be returning left–hander Andrew Summerville from Stanford University. Last summer, Summerville joined the Bells as an incoming freshman and worked exclusively out of the bullpen. That will not be the role for Summerville this summer.
“Look for this guy to be a leader on the staff,” said Coach Clem. Down on the farm, Summerville has been moved into the Cardinal starting staff as a freshman. “He’s very mature,” said Coach James, “a sneaky lefty who works in a good breaking ball.”
The mix of the returners and new faces should make for another great season of baseball in Bellingham. “We expect these guys to compete against some tough competition in the WCL,” said Coach Clem.
“We build teams based on solid defense and good pitching and expect the same thing this year,” James added.