2A/1A Evergreen League Softball Preview: Montesano, Elma have eyes on state berth

After finishing top three in 1A last season, Bulldogs and Eagles focused on return to state tourney

Though one wouldn’t know it with the rash of cold, snowy weather the area continues to receive, the spring prep sports season is upon us, with most Twin Harbors teams opening the season next week, weather permitting of course.

Here’s a preview of local Evergreen League softball teams for the upcoming season.

2A Evergreen League Softball

Aberdeen Bobcats

2018 Record: 10-12 overall, 7-8 Evergreen 2A

Aberdeen will bring a lot of youth to the field as the team that hopes to be battling for a playoff spot.

In addition to losing two seniors to graduation at the end of last season, Aberdeen had a handful of last year’s juniors leave the program.

With a few less returners than what he was originally planning on, Bobcats head coach Scott Wilson said almost every position is open for competition.

“There are nine positions open on this team every single day and every single game,” he said. “You have to earn your spot. We have three kids trying out for third base, we have three kids at second and first base and we have multiple outfielders. Nothing is guaranteed.”

Most of the positions on the field will still be up for grabs when Aberdeen starts its season against River Ridge at 4:30 p.m. on Monday at Bishop Sports Park.

One of the positions not up for grabs in the early going is catcher. Aberdeen lost last year’s starter, Regan Glanz, to graduation and junior infielder Sierra Hammond volunteered to fill the role in the off season.

Hammond will likely spend a lot of time as the battery mate for returning pitcher Jalyn McDaniel, who will be the primary starter in the circle.

Wilson isn’t sure where his young squad will land in the standings and is optimistic his players will be eager for a return to the playoffs.

“With how young we are I expect us to compete every game. My goal is to have these kids mentally and physically prepared for a game no matter what happens,” he said. “Hopefully we get that shot to make the playoffs again. I hope they’re just as hungry as I am to go back to the postseason.”

1A Evergreen League Softball

Montesano Bulldogs

2018 Record: 25-4, 8-0 (3rd in state)

Montesano has some new faces in new places in a lineup that will be hoping to keep the team’s streak of state berths alive.

The team will have to shuffle the lineup a little from last season with the graduation of ace pitcher Samantha Stanfield, who carried a 1.60 ERA into the state tournament and logged most of the innings in the circle for the Bulldogs.

Senior Lindsay Pace will shoulder the pitching load this season after going 7-0 with a 2.00 ERA in 15 appearances in 2018.

Pace said she learned a lot from Stanfield that will help her elevate her game this season.

“I feel like she showed me a lot of things and she really helped me out last year,” she said. “Now I can pass it on to the younger girls for next year.”

Monte head coach Pat Pace hasn’t named a starting catcher yet and said it will be important for his new starting pitcher to develop chemistry quickly with her battery mate.

“Defensively we’re going to have to step our game up,” he said. “We have a new pitcher and a new catcher this year, so our battery is going to have to develop a good relationship really quick.”

Montesano will also be shaking things up in the outfield this season. Center fielder and lead-off hitter Abi Parkin is still recovering from an ACL tear she suffered while playing soccer and will look to rejoin the team in mid-April.

In the meantime, senior Lexi Lovell has been shifted to center field from right field while senior Matti Ekerson patrols left field.

Montesano will also benefit from the return of shortstop Katie Granstrom, who was a key contributor to the offense last season, batting .301 with 17 RBI her junior year.

Lovell acknowledged that the Bulldogs will have to fine tune the defense in the early going, but she is confident they can make another trip to Yakima once they hit their groove.

“I think if we do the things we know we should do, then we’ll definitely go to state.”

Elma Eagles

2018 Record: 20-7, 7-2 (2nd in state)

Elma came within a game of winning a state title and a roster full of returners appears to have the Eagles in good position to make another run at a championship.

Elma lost three players from last year’s roster, none to graduation, and is welcoming back 11 of the 14 players from the 2018 campaign.

“I think we’re going to be a good team defensively, and offensively we’re going to be pretty good to,” Elma head coach Roger Elliot said. “They;re stronger, they have a little more experience, they’re hitting the ball really well and I think they’re going to do alright.”

Elliot doesn’t plan on making too many changes to a lineup that will be anchored by five seniors and four juniors.

The Eagles will be turning to senior Destry Dineen and junior Quin Mikel in the circle with the pair evenly splitting the games on the schedule.

Elma’s starting pitcher Destry Dineen throws a pitch during against Lakeside in last season’s 1A State Championship game. With most of its roster returning, Elma is poised to make another run at a state title. (Photo by Shawn Donnelly)

Elma’s starting pitcher Destry Dineen throws a pitch during against Lakeside in last season’s 1A State Championship game. With most of its roster returning, Elma is poised to make another run at a state title. (Photo by Shawn Donnelly)

Elma will also be expecting big at bats from senior outfielders Molly Johnston and Kassedy Olson, both of whom came up with clutch hits at districts last season to help get the Eagles to their first state berth since 2014.

Elliot isn’t sure where the Eagles will end up at the end of the regular season with stiff competition in league. Instead, he has his eye on a return to districts to give his team a chance to improve on last year’s second-place finish at state.

“Until somebody knocks Monte off, they’re going to be right there. Hopefully, it’s going to be us, but they’re going to be right there,” he said. “If we can get through districts and just get into to state, I’ll be perfectly happy because once you get in you never know.”

Hoquiam Grizzlies

2018 Record: 11-10, 3-4

Hoquiam is hoping to retool this year with the help of a young pitcher and some improved defense.

The Grizzlies’ biggest loss came with the graduation of pitcher English Hyde. Hyde started most of Hoquiam’s game last season with occasional appearances from sophomore Tauni Hilliard.

Hilliard will assume the role of primary starter this season and Hoquiam head coach Keith Reynvaan said he hopes she gets the run support and defense she needs.

“Hopefully, our hitting will be our strength again this year since most of our best hitters are back,” he said. “Last year our defense kind of let us down, so that’ll be one of our priorities this year, to catch and throw the ball better.”

Hoquiam will get its senior leadership from shortstop Maya Jump, centerfielder Kylee Bagwell and Jade Cox at third base.

Reynvaan also mentioned that junior Abbi Spradlin is expected to help stabilize the infield defense at second base.

Reynvaan isn’t sure where his team can land in the standings and is expecting the Grizzlies to be in a dog fight in every game they play while competing in a tough 1A Evergreen League.

“Our league is loaded this year. Monte and Elma are going to battle it out and Forks is right there with those guys,” he said. “We’re going to be fighting to keep our head above water. It’s going to be a tough year this year.”