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Future might be now fo TJ
By CASEY OLSON
The future looks pretty bright for the Thomas Jefferson fastpitch program. But the present also doesnt look too shabby.
The Raiders return some of the best talent in the South Puget Sound League and all but one of them will be back next season for third-year head coach Chad Fahnlander.
We should contend for the league title for the next two to three years, Fahnlander said. We have great bats up and down the lineup with a ton of experience and speed.
Middle infielder Kristi Sigafoos is the lone returning senior from a team that finished 12-10 during the season. Jefferson finished in fifth place in the SPSL South before losing two-straight games at the league tournament with an extremely young lineup.
Also back are juniors Alyssa Haywood, Jill Halvorsen and Brittany Creek, sophomores Shawntay Thong, Stephanie Ogle, Sara Byrne and Brittany Still. Haywood, an outfielder, hit .358 with nine RBIs and 12 runs and Byrne finished with five RBIs and eight runs a season ago. But it was Thong that was the leader of the TJ offense all year as a freshman. Thong, a catcher, finished second in the SPSL South with a .482 average and 27 hits. She also tallied 11 RBIs and scored 14 runs.
The Raiders should also get some help from freshmen Erin Fujita and Jayme Carbon.
We have eight returning, key starters and two freshmen that will start most games, Fahnlander said. We have good speed and experience.
Jefferson has started the season with a 2-1 record after blowout wins over Curtis and Bethel. The Raiders only loss came to one of the league favorites, Emerald Ridge, on Tuesday. Jefferson was shut out 2-0.
Things are looking up for the Todd Beamer fastpitch program.
After two years of some struggles in the SPSL South, the Titans and head coach Stu Prince have finally built up some depth and experience.
Now that we are in our third year, the expectations of the players is to win and fight for a playoff spot, Prince said. If the girls can accept that challenge and stay focused every day, than we should have a successful year.
The Titans might have the best offensive player in the league in senior catcher Jade Clare. As a junior, Clare led the SPSL South in hitting with a .492 batting average after collecting 28 hits in 58 at bats. She also knocked in 18 runs, had 11 doubles and a slugging percentage of .723 to lead the Titans.
The strong season paid off with a full-ride scholarship to Stony Brook University in Long Island.
Jade is the consummate catcher smart, quick, strong and a leader from behind the plate, said Stony Brook head coach Megan Bryant. She throws well, knows the game and loves to compete. Jade has a great work ethic and knows what it takes to be successful.
Also returning will be juniors Kimberly Huteson and Kelli Calvin and sophomores Kelsi Messling and Nicole Peterson. Messling hit .375 with 13 RBIs and Peterson finished at .333 with six RBIs and 10 runs.
Newcomer Alyssa Dale will be a solid addition to the Beamer lineup. The junior pitcher is playing softball for the first time this season since the eighth grade because of knee problems.
If players develop as expected and our pitching holds up, we could compete for a South playoff spot, Prince said.
The Titans started the year 2-0, but have dropped their last two SPSL South games to Rogers and Spanaway Lake.