Sports

All about the attitude

Klahowya pitcher Hillary Paul is the team’s only senior this year, hoping to help take the Eagles back to the postseason.  - Photo by Aaron Managhan
Klahowya pitcher Hillary Paul is the team’s only senior this year, hoping to help take the Eagles back to the postseason.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan

Jodie Woolf never thought her kids would be this excited.

With spring sports season starting, Woolf and the rest of the Klahowya softball squad have been practicing a lot. But if the Lady Eagles could have it their way, they’d never stop.

“I wish the rain would stop so we could get on the field,” Woolf, Klahowya’s coach, said during Monday’s practice in the gym. “But the kids are excited and working hard. They actually asked if they could practice on Sunday.”

The level of dedication goes beyond simple practice. Woolf said her team even likes its conditioning workouts.

“They actually like it, the conditioning,” she said. “They’re like, ‘Bring it on!’”

That’s a good thing for Klahowya, as the team returns a young, albeit experienced core from last year’s team that went 5-12 (4-8 in Nisqually League play). The Lady Eagles made it to the West Central District tourney and knocked off Eatonville in the first round before falling to eventual district champ Chimacum and third-place finisher Steilacoom. But with that experience under their belts, Woolf said her girls are ready to keep lifting the program.

“Their frustrations, it just makes them work harder,” Woolf said. “They’re not the kind of group that gives up. They want to work hard.”

Pitcher Hillary Paul is back as the lone senior from a team that graduates just two starters.

“She was the only junior last year so we kind of anticipated it,” Woolf said. “She leads by example in everything. She just has a positive attitude no matter what.”

And that attitude is setting in with the rest of the team as well.

“With all of them, they have such a great attitude about playing anywhere,” Woolf said. “They just want to do what they can for the team.”

With returners including Brittany Devitt and Jocylynn Meadows, both of whom played in the KCBAR Third Annual Fastpitch Showcase last year, and newcomers like Kazandra Holliday and Meika Bumbalough, Woolf is excited at prospects for both this season and the future.

“It should be a fun, successful year,” Woolf, also Klahowya’s athletic director, said. “Kids in all of our sports have been counting down to spring.”

Another key will be getting players like Kelly Kela back from injuries.

“She came back at districts and was just invaluable for us,” Woolf said. “So we’re happy to have her back and healthy.”

And with some new pitching depth, the Lady Eagles are ready to take flight up the Nisqually League standings.

“Our pitching was our weakness last year and they’ve all worked pretty hard,” Woolf said. “We’ve got two more girls that are freshmen that are pitchers, so there’s a little more depth in the pitching ranks.”

And despite the team’s youth, Woolf believes they’ll only continue to get stronger.

“Absolutely,” she said. “This is the third year in a row I have said we’re young. I said it with these juniors and they just keep improving.”

Central Kitsap

The Lady Cougars were also knocking on state’s door last season after going 15-7, beating Auburn 2-0 in the first round of the 4A WCD tourney before falling to Kentlake and Decatur.

And with a strong mix of youth and experience, Central Kitsap may be even more dangerous. Back are Kendal Sours, Shannon Sumner, Karli Baumgartner, Amy Renfrow, Porsha Molina, Mae Leung and Lauren Johnson, who led the Narrows league in homers last year. On the mound, CK returns Erika Quint, who pitched a perfect game a season ago.

All that adds up to a team CK coach Bruce Welling expects will do very well.

“We’re young, but we’re experienced,” he said. “We made it to districts last year. Things should end up a little different this year.”

He said the best thing about having so many strong players back is that it allows the staff to focus on more specific needs.

“We can accelerate a lot quicker because they’ve been through the system,” Welling said. “And we can spend more time with the younger kids.”

It also means the team doesn’t have to worry about establishing new leadership.

“Most of our kids are leaders,” Welling said. “They know what they’re supposed to do and they do it. I ask a lot of questions and they give me lots of good answers.”

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