Excitement ahead for young softball team

Seniors Megan Stone and Alex Johnson, junior Danielle Covello, and seniors Melissa Webster and Kelsey Walker are veteran players returning to the Wildcat softball diamond this spring. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Seniors Megan Stone and Alex Johnson, junior Danielle Covello, and seniors Melissa Webster and Kelsey Walker are veteran players returning to the Wildcat softball diamond this spring.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

The Mount Si softball team looks to build on a 2008 campaign which saw a lot of growing pains.

The team battled through a long season, making the district playoffs before being eliminated in a wild district tournament game against Skyline. They finished 15-10.

Coach Larry White returns for his eighth season at the helm. White said he’s excited for the season, despite the loss of several starters.

“It’s kind of fun, because everybody coming in has an opportunity to show themselves and rise to the occasion,” the coach said. “We’ve been really blessed with some young girls who have really impressed.”

The ‘Cats will be young, with only two returning seniors: infielder Melissa Webster and outfielder Kelsey Walker. Many positions will be up for grabs in 2009, but one which is not is at second base. That’s because sophomore Megan Stone returns, coming off a breakout freshman campaign where she was among the best in her class in all of Kingco 3A. Other top returners include sophomore outfielder Danielle Massengill and pitcher Alex Johnson, and junior outfielder Danielle Covello and infielder Savannah Maddux.

Among the top newcomers are freshman utility player Maura Murphy and pitcher Anissa Wingnese, who White thinks has the potential to rival another ex-Wildcat pitching star.

“She reminds me of a young little Ms. Kandis,” White said, referring to Kandis Clesson, who won over 70 games for Mount Si from 2003-06 and is the pitching staff ace for NCAA Division I Idaho State this season.

Wingnese is ready and said the team looks good.

“I’m just expecting a good season,” she said.

Senior power

Walker and Webster, as the lone seniors, will be given leadership responsibilities, which they are ready to meet.

“I think both of us have really positive attitudes, which goes a long way,” Walker said. “We’re just going to be able to really fulfill it, by passing down what we know learning from each other and just staying positive.”

Mount Si, Liberty and Juanita are expected to be favorites in a weak 3A league this season. That means their non-conference schedule is where things will likely be decided. That schedule includes dates with Valley rival Cedarcrest, ex-league rival Issaquah, Seattle Prep with Fall City’s Jessica Bladow on the hill, and a trip to play three in Wenatchee over the weekend of March 20 to 21.

“Playing harder teams first actually gives us a good wakeup call,” Walker said. “I think it will be good to not have slacker games in the beginning, so we don’t get too full of ourselves.”

Mount Si’s turnout was down this spring, but not nearly as bad as many others in the league.

“We’re still pretty fortunate here at Mount Si,” White said. “I got an e-mail that [said] we’re one of two teams in our conference that are going to have a JV team. The rest of the schools aren’t even going to have JV.”

He credits local youth softball programs.

“There’s a lot of good involvement in our Little League program,” White said. “The kids get interest up to a certain age, and then the ones that are going, of course, continue on to high school, go out and play ASA ball or whatever. I think that’s where we have an advantage over some of the Bellevue schools (or) Mercer Island.”

Walker thinks her team could go far.

“Realistically, we have a really good shot at state,” she said. “A lot of the harder teams did move up to 4A and I think that we’ll definitely make it there.”

White will be assisted by one of the best coaching staffs on the eastside, including former UW player Traci Tawney and her brother, Brian; former Mariners great Jay Buhner, and veteran assistant Kevin Sweepe. Sweep’s daughter, Kyleen, the former Mount Si infielder, is redshirting this season at Central Washington University and is one of four ex-Cats on college rosters this spring.

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