With the number of all-leaguers and key role players returning to local softball squads this year, the potential exists for some exciting matchups and impressive seasons. Tacoma Weekly caught up with some of the local coaches to get the outlook on how their rosters are shaking out for the 2012 season.
The Lions return eight of nine starters from a team that advanced to the district playoffs last season. Senior second baseman Haley Dusek is adept at getting on base at the top of the lineup, and fellow senior center fielder Kelly McLaughlin and senior right fielder Sarah Sorenson will also be important pieces.
Imposing sophomore pitcher Courtney Schwan returns and will look to be even more dominant this year, and junior shortstop Alexa Ostrander, junior first baseman Alex De Stephano and junior catcher Abby McDonald will also be key to Bellarmine’s success.
“Defensively I think this is the farthest along we’ve been this early in the year,” said head coach Craig Coovert. “We really have depth at multiple positions, which is something we haven’t had in the past.”
The Tigers graduated a few key players, but return a solid group led by senior first baseman/pitcher Brittany Lott, last year’s Narrows League 4A MVP. Lott will lead the Tigers on offense along with second baseman Kenley O’Hanlen, an all-league infielder last year.
Samantha Townsend will look to be a leader on the mound and has strong command of her pitches, and catcher Megan Johnston is solid behind the plate. Outfielder Alison Vancleave also returns and will be a significant contributor for the Tigers.
“This team will have its work cut out for it in the early goings as we are extremely young with a diverse group of talent,” said head coach Charlie Glenn. “They have a lot of heart and work hard, (and) I am confident they will finish strong and be battling for the Narrows League Championship.”
All-league second-team catcher Bailee Larson returns to lead the Thunderbirds this year, as the junior brings a potent bat. Mount Tahoma will be relying on a solid core of juniors to lead the team, as pitcher/outfielder Felicia Thornton and infielder/outfielder Alejandra Barajas are key parts of that group.
Fellow junior shortstop Chealang Hok and junior centerfielder Lupe Hernandez also return, and head coach Rachel Reed expects Kailia Boone and freshman Zanaa Holt to have a big impact as well.
“I think we’re going to be more competitive this year,” Reed said. “We have more pitching than just one (player) we’re relying on – girls that are more dedicated to pitching.”
The Rams are loaded once again and will rely on senior Narrows 3A MVP pitcher Janessa Flynn – who tossed three no-hitters last year – and senior catcher/third baseman Alexa Olague and senior catcher/right fielder Taylor Clark, the co-MVP position players of the league.
“We’re going to be pretty solid. We’re going to play good defense and we have good pitching,” said head coach Ron Balmer. “I think we have pretty good team chemistry and the girls have been working really hard. I don’t see anything that we’re really lacking.”
The Rams also return a cast of all-leaguers in senior shortstop Riley Jornlin, senior first baseman Kylie Bretzel, junior centerfielder Kaysha Fox, junior outfielder Carsen Stanley, junior pitcher Alex Flynn and sophomore second baseman Darian Grimm. Balmer expects freshman pitcher Dejah Rogers to have an impact on the mound as well this season.
The Abes have a growing interest in the program with 38 girls trying out for the team this year, and will look to five key returners to lead the team.
Junior Maryssa Tippett was an all-league selection at third base after hitting well over .500 last year, but will be looked upon to step in at first base this year.
“She’s really consistent at the plate and she’s really good in the infield…good attitude, good leader,” said head coach Shelby Cail.
Senior left fielder Sabrina Rivera and senior catcher Chasity Davis will also be counted on for leadership and production. Junior second baseman Meghan Boyles will be key for the Abes as well this season, and pitcher/shortstop Cesia Pech is an important dual threat for Lincoln.
The Lady Crusaders are a young but versatile group, headlined by senior catcher/utility player Chelsey Murray. Sophomore shortstop/catcher Becca Cerka and junior third baseman/shortstop Piper Havens also return to provide head coach Chuck Murray with lineup options. Junior Sarah Lane also returns to solidify the outfield.
The youth of the team is exemplified by three eighth graders who will look to contribute, including talented pitcher Jenny Brooks. Freshman second baseman Michelle Miller is a returning player who will be a key contributor offensively and defensively as well. “I think we might have some pretty good bats on the team,” Murray said. “Defensively they need a little more improvement. Hopefully their bats really get to work this season. You just never know.”
### LIFE CHRISTIAN
First-year head coach Bob Sonneman is counting on a couple of first-team all-leaguers – senior shortstop/pitcher Kailey Beard and senior centerfielder Ashley Mussig – to lead the Eagles this season. Senior first baseman Chant’e Weston brings a powerful bat, and senior outfielder Natasha Shaty will also be counted on for leadership on a relatively inexperienced squad.
The Eagles are buoyed by two Charles Wright students joining the team – freshman catcher Caitlyn Hosfurd and sophomore shortstop/pitcher Shelby Fisher, who like Beard will see plenty of action on the mound.
“This team, it’s been a long time since they’ve had pitching and the potential is there this year,” Sonneman said. “They can both be very good if they can overcome the mental aspect.”
Freshman third baseman/shortstop/pitcher Maddy Long brings versatility and will also be an important piece for the Eagles.