Eagles To Come Out Strong While Knights Regroup
Frontier League softball
Last year, both West Valley and East Valley’s softball teams qualified for state.
Except for a couple wins while there, coaches couldn’t have asked for much more.
It was EV’s second straight tournament appearance, with a senior-dominated team.
“We’re sort of regrouping this year,” said Coach Bill Clift.
WV has gone to state eight out of the last 10 years, and with an experienced team will be among the Frontier favorites.
“It’s not like we expect it,” said Steve Kent, of the state trips. “But we think we should be in a position to be among the top three teams in league. If we play well we can go to state and make something happen.”
Like last year, state qualifiers will come from an eight-team double-elimination tournament including Northeast A League teams, Hanford and the Frontier League.
Unlike last year, four of the eight come from the Northeast A instead of the Frontier and only three teams qualify for state.
The season begins in earnest April 11, when the Eagles travel to co-favorite Cheney and the Knights host Clarkston.
West Valley pitching is its strength
The secret of West Valley’s success can be summed up in a word.
A freshman last year, Sohns won 9 of 10 outings for the 13-2 Eagles.
“She’s a decent pitcher,” said Kent by way of understatement. “Not too many batters get around on her.”
Sohns and fellow hurler Carie Koker are back and the Eagles even have two more pitchers in sophomore Jennifer Robinson and freshman Gabrielle McClintock.
Koker has moved from the outfield to second base, even though left-handed. Peggy Palmer is in her third varsity season, second as the Eagle shortstop.
Kate Waldron is back at third base, where she played the latter part of last season, and Rachel Shawen has moved into left field.
Also returning are catcher Annie Schell and first baseman Jolie Jensen, although Kent has some options.
“We have more depth,” said Kent. “I still don’t know where it will shake out.”
Senior Colleen Lawler could play first or in the outfield. Jensen can also catch and she or junior Mary Osborne will have to when Schell plays in a USVBA volleyball tournament this spring.
Robinson and McClintock are outfield prospects along with Riverside transfer Erin Roduner, a junior.
East Valley goes with newcomers
The Knights graduated a number of seniors instrumental in the last four years of fast pitch play.
There are some holdovers from last year. Among them are shortstop Barb Cossette, third baseman Angela Overdorff, pitcher Carrie Phillips, outfielders Kathy Knisley and Angie Vaccaro.
There will be 12 new faces on the varsity this year.
“There are a lot of unknowns, learning how to throw to the proper base and so on,” said Clift. “We don’t know who can hit. But overall I think this is the best group top to bottom I’ve worked with so far.”
The Knights have summer fast pitch experience and more speed with which to take chances on the base paths.
“We’ll be more daring and aggressive than we’ve been in the past,” said Clift.
Clift has looked at a quartet of pitchers in pre-season, including the veteran Phillips, freshman Tricia Stookey, senior April Smith and junior Kim Stern.
Catchers are senior Julie Pfeifer and junior Angie Stroh. Twin sister Amie Stroh is a center fielder.
At first base are either junior Wendy Stredwick or senior Jena Ponti. Freshman Michelle Morgan is at second. Overdorff or Stookey will play third.
Backup shortstop is senior Jamie Jones. Other outfielders include Smith, Stern or Stookey. Infielders Katie Turley and Kelli Haye complete the roster.