Mark Yockey is trying to ignore what could prove to be added pressure tonight when he opens the Everett Giants' Northwest League season.
The Giants begin the rookie league campaign at 7 p.m. against the Bellingham Mariners at Everett Memorial Stadium.
That's where the eyes of Yockey's parents, brother, sister, girl friend, and dozens of other friends, ranging from his former high school American Legion coach to former teammates on the Seattle Studs semi-pro club, will watch every throw of the left-handed pitcher who once played for Woodinville High School, Edmonds Community College and Lewis-Clark State.
Unlike the rest of the Giants, who have come to Everett from all over the country in the past 10 days and still are establishing ties in town, Yockey is on familiar turf. The way Yockey sees it, there's plusses and minuses in his unusual status - particularly as the Opening Day pitcher.
``I had a feeling last week that I might start the first game because they (Giant coaches) said their first three starting pitchers would be college kids that have pitched a lot recently. My last college game was June 1,'' said Yockey, who turned that outing into a big assist in helping L-C State win a fourth consecutive NAIA title.
Once the word was out that Yockey would start Everett's home opener, the young pitcher's fan club began ordering tickets. It's not that Yockey is unaccustomed to some crowds.
He estimated there were 5,000 people in the stands when L-C State played in the World Series. ``And we had 2 to 3,000 for our games with Washington State because of the baseball rivalry between the two schools. But this will be a little different,'' he said.
``I'm just trying to figure out how to have fun, but play well. I just have to rely on discipline from within.
``Things haven't come easy for me. I've worked on it to be a competitive pitcher,'' he said. ``I've just got to approach every game trying not to make mistakes. That just means concentrating that much more.''
That means incorporating the lessons he's received from Diego Segui, former major-league pitcher and current Everett pitching coach. ``What I learned at L-C shaped me. Diego's adding the finer points to my game,'' Yockey said.
Yockey figures the concentration on his game will help erase thoughts of his fan club and ease opening game pressures.
BOWLING FOR GOODWILL
-- Plans are still firm to have an international exhibition of many top amateur bowlers open the new Majestic Lanes in north Lynnwood. The event will be July 20, which coincides with the start of the Goodwill Games.
But Tom Funk, general manager for the new bowling center, says you won't find the exhibition on the Goodwill Games calendar of events.
``It's being held in conjunction with the Games, but it's not an official Goodwill Games event,'' Funk said. ``And, contrary to what some people keep asking us or telling us, the center was not built for the Goodwill Games. It's for south Snohomish County residents and those in the area.''
The exhibition, featuring round robin qualifying and the stepladder televised final round at 3:30 p.m., will be open and free to the public. Competing will be eight of the top amateur bowlers from throughout the world. Representing the United States will be men's national champ Adam Apo and female counterpart Linda Graham.
Arianne Cerdena of the Philippines, who won the women's gold medal in bowling's exhibition at the 1988 Summer Olympic Games, will appear. Entries also have been received from bowlers coming from Canada, Spain, Sweden, Mexico, Finland, Australia and Venezuela.