The 2009 Kelso softball team was a prime example of just what state rankings mean — nothing.
The Hilanders were unranked heading into last year’s 4A tournament and went on to win it all with a young team. I said back then they wouldn’t escape notice to start the 2010 rankings, and they’re not.
With nearly everyone back from that team, Kelso sits in the No. 1 spot in our opening Class 4A state poll with Walla Walla (third last year) a close second. And Stanwood, with one of the top batteries in the state in pitcher Brittany Jeans (James Madison commit) and catcher Sam Bingham (South Dakota State), is another serious contender at No. 3.
Locally, Woodinville starts at No. 5 and Mountlake Terrace (last year’s runner-up) opens at No. 9. Rogers of Puyallup is No. 7 out of the gate.
Bainbridge, the defending 3A champion, expects to contend again, despite the graduation of ace pitcher Lindsay Willmann. And Metro rival Holy Names, which finished second last spring will be awfully tough again.
But those two teams start 2-3 behind top-ranked Union of Vancouver, which has all but two players back from the team that took third in 2009.
Sedro-Woolley gets the nod at No. 4 despite a brand new outfield. Juanita is No. 5 with an outstanding group back from the team that was 22-1 last season before stumbling at state (1-2). And Everett is in the mix at No. 6.
Mount Rainier, which got hot at state last year and just missed a trophy, opens at No. 8.
The 3A rankings are always the most difficult as so many of the teams play in mixed 4A/3A leagues. So don’t be fooled by East Valley’s 2-3 record (remember the Knights’ girls basketball team that took home a trophy earlier this month after coming into the tournament with a sub-.500 mark).
I expect plenty of movement throughout the season and I welcome your feedback. If any records are incorrect, please let us know. They are not always easy to keep track of.
So, here you go:
(Records through March 27)
1. Kelso (4-0)
2. Walla Walla (5-0)
3. Southridge (Kennewick) (7-0)
4. Stanwood (5-0)
5. Woodinville (3-0)
6. Mead (Spokane) (6-0)
7. Rogers (Puyallup) (6-0)
8. Stadium (Tacoma) (6-0)
9. Mountlake Terrace (3-1)
10. University (Spokane) (5-1)
Others to watch (listed alphabetically) — Arlington, Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma), Cascade (Everett), Central Valley (Spokane), Inglemoor (Kenmore), Issaquah, Jefferson (Federal Way), Kamiakin (Kennewick), Kentlake, Kentridge, Mountain View (Vancouver), Puyallup, Redmond, Tahoma (Maple Valley), Wilson (Tacoma).
1. Union (Vancouver) (4-0)
2. Bainbridge (6-1)
3. Holy Names (5-0)
4. Sedro-Woolley (5-0)
5. Juanita (Kirkland) (4-2)
6. Everett (5-1)
7. Bonney Lake (6-1)
8. Mount Rainier (Des Moines) (5-3)
9. East Valley (Spokane) (2-3)
10. Prairie (Brush Prairie) (3-2)
Others to watch (listed alphabetically) — Auburn Mountainview, Camas, Columbia River, Enumclaw, Glacier Peak (Snohomish), Kennedy Catholic (Burien), Lynnwood, Meadowdale (Lynnwood), Mount Spokane, West Seattle.