Sports

2002 Girls Softball Preview

SPSL fastpitch title up for grabs

The Decatur High girls fastpitch team is looking to compete in the SPSL, thanks to the addition of junior pitcher Kelly Claar. Claar, last season’s SPSL South Division Most Valuable Player who helped lift Federal Way to a 15-1 league record, transferred to Decatur this school year.

Pitching, which was a weakness for Decatur last season, will be one of its strong suits this year.

“Our hitting is our achilles heal,” said Decatur coach Peter Waid. “We’ll have low- scoring games.”

The Gators return just one senior in Cristina Null, but have a strong junior class of experienced players including Kaitlin Bailey, Kristin Carlson, Breanna Klasen, Jamee Martello, Aubrey McCarney, Lauren Morales, Michelle Mask and Katie Street.

“I’m lucky there,” Waid said. “We’re a very young team, like Emerald Ridge was last year. This year, I think Emerald Ridge will be No. 1, Jefferson will be No. 2, and we should be No. 3.”

Jefferson should get back to the playoffs after posting a 12-4 league record last season.

The Raiders return all but one starter from last season’s team that made it to the playoffs. Jefferson has experience in every position.

Jefferson returns four players who made the All-SPSL first team last season. Erin Johnson, a senior who plays first base, should provide solid batting, along with fellow all-league players Chelsea Hunt, a junior who plays right field, and senior utility player Rachel Girello.

Ace pitcher Natasha Lindsey returns for her senior season after earning all-league honors last season. She will help the Raiders compete at the top of the league.

Federal Way posted a 15-1 season last year, but lost all but one of its starting players to graduation. The lone returning player transferred to Decatur.

While it will be a rebuilding year at all positions, the Eagles have the players to do the job, including Jodie Spillner, Tiffany Jones, Monique Hildebrand, Erica Kuchciak, Camille Ducharme and Megan Freshhour.

“We have a good attitude going in,” Federal Way coach Mark Cole said. “I think we’ll be able to make contact, hopefully get on base and put some pressure on. Will we be back in the playoffs? We have a shot.”

Decatur

Coach: Peter Waid, third year

Last year’s record: 1-15

Strong returners: Lauren Morales, junior, shortstop; Breanna Klasen, junior, third base, pitcher; Jamee Martello, junior, catcher; Kaitlin Bailey, junior, first base; Aubrey McCarney, junior, first base; Katie Street, junior, outfielder; Michelle Mask, junior, second base; Cristina Null, senior, first base, outfielder; Kristen Carlson, junior, pitcher, infielder.

Top newcomers: Kelly Claar, junior transfer from Federal Way, last year’s SPSL South Most Valuable Player; Samantha Ganacias, sophomore; Alexis Price, sophomore.

Team strengths: Pitching, good defense.

Team weaknesses: Hitting.

Coach’s quote: “We’re a very young team with only one senior. They’re a fun bunch and a class act.”

Federal Way

Coach: Mark Cole

Last year’s record: 15-1 in league, 19-4 overall

Strong returners: None — the varsity team was made up of all seniors last season. The lone sophomore from last year’s team, Kelly Claar, transferred to Decatur this season.

Top newcomers: Everyone. Jodie Spillner, Tiffany Jones, Monique Hildebrand, Erica Kuchciak, Camille Ducharme, Megan Freshhour.

Team strengths: Good attitude, able to make contact and get on base.

Team weaknesses: Not being able to practice outside because of rain.

Coach’s quote: “Hey, TJ and Decatur, send our players back.”

Jefferson

Coach: Kevin Hanis, second year

Last year’s record: 12-4 in league, 16-9 overall

Strong returners: Erin Johnson, senior, first base; Natasha Lindsey, senior, pitcher; Chelsea Hunt, junior, right fielder; Rachel Girello, senior, utility; Val Crow, senior, shortstop; Tawnya Guthrie, junior, catcher; Jamie Salmon, junior, third base, outfielder; Jessica Allen, senior, third base.

Top newcomers: Kristy Richardson, junior, outfielder; Ashley Osman, junior, outfielder, pitcher; Amanda Guerrero, sophomore, infielder; Lindsay Radford, sophomore, infielder; Amanda Herrera, sophomore, pitcher, infielder.

Team strengths: Return a lot of players from last season. Experienced pitching, hitting and defense.

Team weaknesses: Outfielders, some inexperience at some positions.

Coach’s quote: “We’re looking forward to the new season.”

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