Several softball teams took big hits due to graduation last year, and it is time for some promising newcomers to shine. We take a look at some of the local squads as the season begins. Note: Life Christian will not be fielding a team this year due to low numbers, and the Stadium and Tacoma Baptist coaches could not be reached for comment.
After reaching the state tournament last year, the Lions return a good number of experienced players, including Narrows 4A MVP pitcher Courtney Schwan. The junior is dominant on the mound, and should continue to contribute offensively as well.
Schwan is surrounded by a solid core of seniors, including four-year starting first baseman Alex DeStephano and shortstop Alexa Ostrander. Senior utility player Rachel Barcena will be a very important piece offensively and on the mound, and sophomore Rebecca Sorenson brings a solid bat as she takes over at second base.
“Last year we had a really nice run and fell flat when we were there,” said head coach Craig Coovert. “This group that comes back wants to see it through even farther. So far the work ethic and drive is very impressive.”
Coovert added that freshman pitcher Erica Grenlund should also contribute on the mound, and fellow freshman Alyssa McKiernan will contribute in the infield and outfield.
The Rams lost star pitcher Janessa Flynn and power hitters Alexa Olague and Taylor Clark – among others – but will still look to quickly rebound with a promising group.
Senior pitcher Alex Flynn should take over as the ace, and brings a solid bat as well. Senior outfielder Kaysha Fox should continue to make noise at the top of the lineup, and senior infielder Darian Grimm and infielder/outfielder Julie Davis will be counted on as well. Junior infielder Stephanie Granger will help Flynn form a solid pitching staff and should also contribute in the infield, while senior Carsen Stanley will take over for Olague at catcher.
“We may have to try to score different ways than just trying to get up and smash it,” head coach Ron Balmer noted. “We’ll still be okay just because we have decent pitching.”
Balmer added that sophomore Maddisyn Scott and freshmen Syntera Garnes and Kenzie Baynes should see time as well.
The Thunderbirds have eight seniors on the squad this season, led by first-team all-league catcher Bailee Larson.
Larson will be counted on to lead the offense, as her powerful bat should make noise in Mount Tahoma’s first season in the 3A ranks. Also returning is senior center fielder Lupe Hernandez, while sophomore shortstop Zanaa Holt adds more experience to the lineup. Sophomore Nancy LaPointe-McCloud will look to lead the Thunderbirds on the mound after getting significant experience there last year.
Head coach Rachel Reed noted that the team is strong on leadership and sports a strong desire to improve, something that should help their development. She added that senior outfielder Caylie Neziri and freshman infielder Elizabeth Box are a couple of newcomers to keep an eye on.
The Abes will look to build the program under first-year coach Ron Aguirre, who is in his 23rd year of coaching softball.
Lincoln’s hopes will be centered on senior infielder Maryssa Tippett, who has an extremely powerful bat and will surely lead the offensive effort. Tippett, though, will also be relied upon heavily as the team’s ace on the mound. Also returning is junior shortstop Heidi Leeper, who will bring leadership and experience in the lineup. Aguirre noted that junior infielder Yozelin Maldenado also should make an impact, and that the Abes will work to steadily improve for future seasons as well.
“I noticed a strong desire to listen and to work to be better,” he said of his early impressions of the squad. “They want to be a contender someday.”
The Falcons are another team looking to rebound from a tough season, and feature a good combination of experience and youth.
Senior Pawarisa Onmun – a two-time second team all-leaguer – will switch from the outfield to solidify the catcher spot, and senior Kapua Lane will look to lead Foss on the mound. Junior Kylie Thornton also returns to the infield for the Falcons.
Head coach Carlena Stroud noted that freshman infielders Michaela Phillips, Hallie Bader and Breanne Hayes should make an immediate impact, while fellow freshman Tyra Goshay will see time in the outfield.