Liberty athlete signs with Huskies

January 2, 2009

By Jim Feehan

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Liberty High School senior Eric Peterson has signed a letter of intent to play baseball for the University of Washington.

Eric Peterson is safe at second with an RBI double during a baseball game in March, as Hazen shortstop Kevin Schwab covered the base. By Greg Farrar

Eric Peterson is safe at second with an RBI double during a baseball game in March, as Hazen shortstop Kevin Schwab covered the base. By Greg Farrar

Peterson is the first Liberty High School player to sign with the Huskies sincethe UW signed Liberty graduate Tim Lincecum after he led the Patriots to the 3A 2003 state championship. 

In November, Lincecum, now pitching for the San Francisco Giants, was named the National League Cy Young winner.

Peterson said he’s looking forward to taking his game to the college level.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play Division 1 baseball, and at the University of Washington I’ll also get a good education,” he said.

Last season, Peterson was a first-team selection as a utility player on the All-KingCo 3A team and also earned second-team 3A all-state honors from the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association.

“Eric plays shortstop in high school,” said Ken Knutson, who is entering his 17th year as coach of the Huskies baseball team. “He could end up as a corner infielder or outfielder for us. He’s another very good left-handed hitter with a good arm.”

Former Liberty baseball coach Scott Colby said Peterson has all of the tools to excel at the next level. 

“There is no doubt in my mind that Eric will be successful at the University of Washington and in the Pac-10,” Colby said. “I am sure that Joe Ross, the hitting coach at the UW, is licking his chops now that Eric is inked.”  

Colby said Knutson is ecstatic about signing Peterson.

“Ken is well aware of the baseball lineage in Eric’s family, as Ken told me that Eric’s dad Keith is one of the best hitters that he has ever seen,” Colby said.  

Keith Peterson played baseball at Sammamish High School and later at Lewis & Clark State in Lewiston, Idaho, for legendary head coach Ed Cheff.  

“I see a lot of what I have heard was his dad’s competitive spirit, work ethic and offensive production in Eric,” Colby said. 

Peterson said his dad and his grandfather Dennis Peterson, who played in the minor leagues, were instrumental in his development as a player.

“They were both big influences on me,” he said.

Peterson also has something in common with Lincecum, Colby said.

“Eric came into the Patriot baseball program with a little bit of an unorthodox swing, but just as (Liberty coaches) Glen Walker and John Martin came to discover with Tim Lincecum, you can’t tinker too much with an unorthodox approach when it works,” Colby said of Peterson’s weight-shift approach in the batter’s box. “His swing works for him.”

By the end of his freshman year, Colby had Peterson starting at second base for the varsity squad. For his development, Colby started Peterson at third base his sophomore year, and had every intention of him being the showcase shortstop for both his junior and senior season.

“I think that our decision-making process for Eric’s development was very sound,” Colby said. “We put him in the slowest position in the infield for his freshman year, moved him to the hot corner for his sophomore year and slid him over to the most demanding position in the infield for his junior year.” 

Steve Darnell, current baseball coach at Liberty, said Peterson is a great person on and off the field.

“We are expecting big things from Eric this season in terms of production on the field and his leadership in the dugout,” he said.

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