What a great week of softball weather! About time, huh? And I’ve heard we may be in for some more next week. Hope you are getting out and enjoying some games.
In this edition of Triple Play, you’ll hear about Chief Sealth’s quest for a first-ever trip to state, Lake Stevens’ break-out season and Cedarcrest’s climb.
Plus I’ll touch on some recent game results that jumped out at me and link you to the latest national rankings.
Chief Sealth hopes to live up to state potential
Hitting and fielding softballs hasn’t been the only challenge for Chief Sealth over the years.
Just fielding a team wasn’t always easy.
When Mike DePew joined the coaching staff as an assistant in 2009, there were only 11 girls in the program – total.
“Since then, we’ve grown,” he said.
Mike Siva had been head coach for about 25 years, according to DePew. He stepped down after that 2009 season and DePew took over the reigns. Enough girls turned out the following year for the Seahawks to field a junior varsity team and this season there are 27 girls in the program.
More numbers have helped produce more victories. The 2011 team went 17-9 and last year’s group finished 16-8, going 15-6 in Metro League play (and 12-0 against South Division opponents – which DePew believes was a first).
DePew lost only one starter from that team and has seven returning seniors. The Seahawks improved to 12-3 (10-2) yesterday with a 3-2 victory over rival West Seattle. It was a great way to bounce back after Monday’s tough, 9-7 loss to Bishop Blanchet, when the committed seven errors.
“I hope we have a chance to face them again,” DePew said.
That would possibly be at the Metro League tournament, or possibly Sea-King 3A District tourney. Or maybe even at state, which is where these seniors are hoping to culminate their prep careers.
“We look at this as a premier year for Chief Sealth,” DePew said. “With those seven seniors, it’s certainly a good year for us to peak. We’re looking forward to getting to state this year.”
That would be another first for the Seahawks, whose lone state softball appearances in were in slowpitch back in 1983 and ’94.
Six of the seven seniors are four-year veterans, led by pitcher Chloe Behar. She gets it done in the circle (9-2 record) and at the plate (.564 batting average with a .679 on-base percentage and .923 slugging percentage).
“She’s an awesome, all-around ballplayer,” DePew said. “She started pitching as a freshman and has done a tremendous amount to make the program far better, and she’s a leader within the school community.”
Senior Sam Foy, who joined the team last year, also does some pitching.
“It works well having the two of them as a pitching combination,” DePew said. “Their styles are different. Chloe has a wide range of pitches. She throws five different pitches and Sam throws three.”
As a team, Sealth is batting .404 with 45 extra-base hits. Other top hitters include seniors Cori Schwinger (.520 average, .571 on-base and .880 slugging percentages), Malia Dewey (.417 with .481 on-base, .708 slugging) and sophomores Megan Hoferman (.529, .619 on-base, .941 slugging) and Sophie Boyd (.487, .565 on-base, .667 slugging).
Boyd, who started at catcher as a freshman, leads the team in RBIs with 24, while senior first-baseman Alana Sullivan has 15.
DePew, who coached his two daughters when they were younger, has been pleased with the team’s progress.
“They work hard and I tell them we’re kind of blessed and cursed to get to play on a turf field,” he said. “The blessing is we’re out there whether it’s raining or snowing and the curse is that we’re out there whether it’s raining or snowing. But they’re out there working hard and have a very good attitude even with the adverse conditions.
The start of something good at Lake Stevens
This should be the start of something good at Lake Stevens.
The young Vikings are in position to post their first winning season since 2007, when they last qualified for the 4A state tournament. They are 7-1 in the WesCo 4A North Division, 11-3 overall, and have won eight in a row since a 4-0 loss to Snohomish on April 1.
Coach Adrianna Lartz come into the campaign cautiously optimistic. She has been in the program for nine years, but this is just her third season as head coach. The Viks were just 6-14 last year, when they had no seniors, and 8-12 the year before.
“I was pretty hopeful,” Lartz said. “I also coach eighth grade, so I’ve known all these kids. We’ve been really successful at that (eighth-grade) level, so I was hoping we were going to bring that success up here. But after the last couple of years, I was skeptical.”
The Vikings were just 1-2 after a late-inning loss to Jackson, when they led by two with two outs in the seventh. But they gave up three in the bottom of the inning to fall 7-6.
Still, the close game gave them some confidence.
“Even though we lost, the girls felt, ‘Wow, we are going to be competitive this year,’” Lartz said. “Then when we beat Arlington, the girls saw we really were a strong team. It got the to really believe in themselves and that we were going to be able to win games. Arlington was a turning point.”
The Eagles were 8-0 before Lake Stevens got that 6-2 victory.
Now, back to the part where the Viks had no seniors on last year’s team. As it turned out, that didn’t mean everyone would be back this season. Lartz said half of the team members have not returned, for one reason or another. But those who have are enjoying the turn-around, thanks in part to some of the newcomers.
Senior Sierra Card is back handling the pitching duties and is 8-2 with a 2.55 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings.
“She’s doing a great job,” Lartz said. “She’s very smart and likes to call her own pitches, she and her catcher. She’s got a good drop and change and hits her spots. She’s one of the hardest workers on the team and she tends to get better as she goes on.”
Lartz split time in the circle early last season with Rayne Sylvester, until Sylvester broke a foot and had to sit out the rest of the season. Sylvester, now a junior, has moved to shortstop this spring, although she throws occasionally.
They’ve gotten plenty of offensive support as Lake Stevens has a team batting average of .392.
Sophomore third baseman Amie Browder, also the backup catcher, is hitting.463 with four doubles, three triples and three homers – a .927 slugging percentage. She leads the team in RBIs with 16 and also has 14 runs scored.
Senior Jessica Scruggs (second base/left field) has a .457 average with five doubles, two triples and 11 RBIs, while junior Emily Schollenberger (right field) is at .467 with 10 runs scored and seven walks.
Junior Dakota Pitzer, who is often the DB back also backs up at first and third, bats .450
And sophomore Cassidy Fifield (second base/shortstop) carries a .391 average in the leadoff spot with a team-best 15 runs scored. Sylvester is at .364 with 13 RBIs and 14 runs scored along with seven stolen bases.
“Our girls can hit one-through-nine,” Lartz said. “We don’t necessarily have a weakness. Even in the bottom and middle of the lineup, we’re still hitting the ball hard. That’s a big difference than in the past, the ability to adjust at the plate and being more versatile hitters. These girls are good offensive kids.”
The Vikings are starting to look like a state-caliber team, although Lartz said that wasn’t the goal at the beginning of the year.
“For us to just have a winning season and get to district was our goal,” she said. “They’ve just surprised me.”
Close not good enough for Cecarcrest this spring
Getting close isn’t good enough for the Cedarcrest Red Wolves this season.
They are intent on breaking through to the 2A state tournament after falling short the past few years. They were especially disappointed last spring after going 14-4 in the Cascade Conference, second place behind Granite Falls, then going 0-2 at district.
Coach Les Collins, in his eighth season, returned his entire lineup this year and the team came in with high hopes.
“We set our sights on getting the league championship, moving into the playoffs and getting ourselves into state,” he said. “We’re still on track for those things to happen.”
With yesterday’s doubleheader sweep of Coupeville, Cedarcrest improved to 10-2 in the Cascade Conference, 11-3 overall. They avenged an earlier 11-8 loss to Granite Falls on Tuesday, 7-6, and hope to turn the tables on second-place Lakewood Monday after falling 6-1 the first time around.
The Red Wolves have a solid pitching duo in senior Stephanie Hall, a lefty, and sophomore Allie McCain.
“We rotate them or pitch them both in games,” Collins said. “Whatever it takes. We’re pretty flexible on how we use them.”
Neither has a lot of speed, but both use ball control to get the job done.
“And right now, our strength is our offense,” Collins said. “We’re hitting the ball well and scoring consistently.”
They haven’t been shut out since the 8-0 opening loss to Lake Washington back in mid-March.
“We’ve got pretty good speed, as much as anybody does,” Collins said. “We rely on getting on base and advancing. We play a lot of small ball. Our on-base percentage is over .860.”
Senior first-baseman Kailyn Campbell, a four-year starter, is hitting .580 and has some pop in her bat with 18 extra-base smacks. Shortstop Taylor Turner, another four-year veteran and the team’s leadoff hitter, carries a .500 average with 24 stolen bases. Two others senior vets have also been key offensively as centerfielder Karly Gidlof is batting .438 and Jerrica Kjorsvik, who catches and plays third base, is at .470.
Cedarcrest had a good state run with three straight appearances in 2006, ’07 and ’08, but hasn’t been back since. Collins believes the drought can end next month.
“If we get into district with a head of steam, we should be in position to get ourselves to state,” he said.
Did you catch these scores?
The one that made my eyebrows shoot up from Wednesday: Seattle Prep 3, Bainbridge 1. The Panthers jumped up 2-0 in the top of the first and never looked back. Karina Diekema had a home run and Lauren Mathews went 2-for-4.
It was just the second loss of the season for the Spartans, and I can’t remember when they were last beaten by Prep. Neither can coach Liz McCloskey, but in doing some checking I think it might have been 2004.
Bainbridge’s other loss was to unbeaten Holy Names. The second game of that series was rained out and rescheduled for next Tuesday at Lower Woodland Park.
Juanita handed Lake Washington its first KingCo 3A/2A loss of the season Wednesday, 6-3. They go at it again on Tuesday.
And in a key SPSL South showdown this past Tuesday, Emerald Ridge edged Beamer, 4-3. The Jaguars are still unbeaten and Beamer now has two league losses. The two teams play again Monday and the Titans get a shot at avenge their other loss, against Rogers, today.
The latest national rankings
Woodinville holds at No. 14 in this week’s MaxPreps Xcellent 25, whith Connell jumping a notch to No. 21. Find the complete rankings here.
In the NFCA poll, Woodinville inches up from No. 9 to No. 8.