Spring sports preview: Long-time friends hope to lead Warrior baseball back to state
The introduction on the baseball field came in 2006 when Tate Budnick and Mac McLachlan were both named to the Pacific Little League All-Star team, an honor that was bestowed on them for three straight campaigns. Nine years later, best friends Budnick and McLachlan are senior co-captains hoping to lead the Edmonds-Woodway baseball team to its third straight Wesco title.
“We’ve been best friends since 7th grade,” said Budnick. “Our friendship keeps growing.”
Following the conclusion of their respective Little League careers, Budnick joined the Seattle Select baseball team. The team needed another catcher and Budnick’s father and coach asked McLachlan to join the group as they prepared to head to Cooperstown for a national tournament. This tournament, which saw the team finish ninth out of 100 teams, would begin a string of summers spent playing baseball together.
After two years at Seattle Select, the boys moved together to Chafee Homes Select. That team, which featured many of the current local high school stars, would win the CABA national championship comprised of over 60 teams from around the country.
Fast forward to 2011, when both Budnick and McLachlan made the varsity team as freshman, with Mac earning time in the outfield and Tate spending time at catcher, designated hitter, pitcher and in the field. “I remember they had the teams posted in the locker room and when we saw both our names on it I said to Mac,’ this is awesome,’” Budnick recalled. Both would earn all-league recognition as freshman.
As sophmores, their careers continued with Budnick catching and pitching and McLachlan becoming the everyday left fielder. Budnick would earn All-Wesco honors as a hitter that year, also setting a school record with 30 walks. The team made it to the state 4A baseball tournament, losing to Kentridge in the playoffs.
In 2013, Budnick would earn all-conference as a pitcher and McLachlan, despite discontinuing off-season training, would lead the team in hitting at nearly .400 and earn all-conference honors in the field. Budnick continued off-season baseball, being selected to participate on the Seattle Mariners fall scout team, while McLachlan focused on football, eventually being named Wesco Defensive player of the year for the Warriors.
Joining McLachlan and Budnick as seniors on this year’s squad are Austin Whitehouse and Jason Smarr. Smarr anchors an outfield, along with McLachlan and Chantz Justice, that assistant coach Will Budnick calls ”the fastest in Wesco.” “We really like Jason at the top of the lineup,” said Will Budnick, who also happens to be Tate’s father. “He just makes things happen.” Of Whitehouse, Will Budnick said, “We like him at first (base) and also as a late inning pitcher. He’s really solid in the field.”
Also returning is All Wesco third baseman, junior Joey Rees. Rees is making the transition to shortstop to replace a graduated Alex Hull. Coach Budnick says that while on paper, Cascade is listed as favorite, “the road to the Wesco South title still goes through Edmonds-Woodway.” Adds Tate,” Our goal is always to get to state.”
The Warriors’ season continues this Friday with a game against neighboring rival Meadowdale at the Mavericks home field. Most games start at 4 p.m. and you can see the complete schedule here.
— Story by Jeff Smarr