Reciting the lineage of Skyview High School pitchers throughout the years sounds like you’re reading a Biblical genealogy.
First, there was Bryce Moore, who begat Andrew Page. Page begat Jeremy Dunham, who begat Nate King, who begat Sean Santschi.
Santschi begat Jeff Ames, who begat Kody Watts, who begat Ian Hamilton, who begat Brody Barnum. All ended up playing in college, and several went on to have professional baseball careers.
Senior Daniel Copeland, junior Alex Miller and sophomore Cooper Barnum form the backbone of a pitching staff that had a combined 1.57 earned run average going into the weekend.
Skyview, which won the Greater St. Helens 4A title this season, begins its bid for the program’s first state championship since 2013 on Saturday, May 19, taking on District 2 champion Inglemoor at Everett Stadium.
“Skyview has had good pitching from the very beginning,” said coach Seth Johnson, an assistant coach in 2013 who took over the head coaching job two years later. “There are certain things that we preach here. We want our pitchers to be strike throwers and have the mentality to be the aggressor. We’re going to challenge the hitter up.”
Copeland, a Gonzaga University signee, recently was named GSHL 4A Player of the Year. He epitomizes Johnson’s vision of a Skyview pitcher – in 49 innings, he struck out 64 and walked just 11 batters, going 5-1 on the mound with a 1.28 ERA. He also hit .529 with a 1.460 OPS and 21 runs scored.
With the Storm’s season on the line May 9 in a loser-out game vs. Sumner in the bi-district playoffs, Copeland pitched 5 2/3 strong innings to lead Skyview to a 6-2 win.
“Daniel doesn’t back down to anyone,” Johnson said. “He enjoys competing and is not afraid of failure.”
A year ago, Copeland faced the same situation after Skyview lost its playoff opener and had to win to keep its season alive. He tossed a gem in a 3-2 victory over Emerald Ridge that got the Storm into the state playoffs, where they eventually placed third.
“I love that situation,” Copeland said. “Ever since I was little, I’ve loved to compete.”
Miller, meanwhile, walked just three batters and struck out 33 in 23 innings in amassing a 4-1 record with a 1.50 ERA. The junior is the stereotypical crafty lefty – Barnum marvels at his ability to locate his curveball anywhere in the zone. “He’s nasty when he gets that pitch low and in,” Barnum said.
He was locked in during Skyview’s 8-1 win May 12 over Kentridge that clinched a state berth, tossing a complete-game six-hitter.
Miller said his approach is simply “just get outs. Throw one pitch at a time and trust that my defense will have my back.”
As dominant as Copeland and Miller were during the season, it was Barnum who received the most votes of any pitcher for the all-league team after going 4-0 with a 1.90 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 35 innings, and who earned the start in Skyview’s first postseason game May 8 against Todd Beamer.
He allowed just three hits and departed after 5 2/3 innings with a 4-2 lead, but Todd Beamer rallied for a 5-4 win in eight innings at Propstra Stadium.
Following in older brother Brody’s footsteps hasn’t brought any added pressure, Cooper said. “Just watching him compete at such a high level, how to attack batters, benefitted me a lot,” he explained.
As a result, the Storm comes into every game holding three aces – a hand that’s awful hard to beat, which shows in their 19-4 record heading into the state playoffs.
“All of us have complete confidence in each other,” Copeland said. “We have three guys who can go out and pitch against anyone and have success. I know each of them is going to get the job done.”
Copeland entered Skyview’s pitching pipeline early, playing on the varsity as a freshman. The Storm finished just 13-12 that season and were eliminated in the first round of the state tournament, but the lessons imparted on him stuck to this day.
“The seniors on that team gave me the confidence to go out on the mound and compete,” he said. “I love being on the mound and in control of a game.”
Copeland also saw what it took to be a staff ace from Brody Barnum, whose dominant senior season (7-2, 1.77 ERA, 73 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings) helped Skyview to its third-place finish at state before becoming heading off to Washington State.
Copeland, not too shabby himself last season with six wins (including wins in the state quarterfinals and third-place game) and a 1.02 WHIP, is now imparting these lessons upon Miller and Cooper Barnum, and with Copeland set to graduate next month and start his career at Gonzaga, the next men up are ready to pick up the mantle their predecessors left them.
Cooper points to a couple of underclassmen on the JV roster who will join the staff next spring. Then, there’s Miller’s younger brother, Michael, a freshman whose stuff rivals Alex’s, and then there will be players who enter the pipeline after them.
“I’ll talk with anyone to help them,” Cooper said. “I’ll try to pass what I know along to anybody who wants it.”