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Good attitude infuses South Whidbey fastpitch team
After a couple of years learning the basics, the Falcon fastpitch softball team is poised for a breakthrough.
“We have a whole team; strength in depth, great work ethic and a general upbeat attitude,” said Falcon coach Chuck Burton. “They have matured as a team and have zeroed in on throwing, passing and pitching so much that I truly believe it’s all going to pay off.”
Last year’s record was a dismal six wins and 12 losses, but Burton and his players aren’t looking back.
Echoing their leader, several players cited the ability to reach out to each other as the key to victory.
“We communicate better than ever, know how each girl will react when something happens during a game,” said pitcher Rebecca Stratton. “And there’s always something going on in fastpitch softball.”
The coach calls this “situational awareness,” that peculiar instinct for doing the right thing at the right time. But doing it fast, with unerring accuracy.
“The details of who is on base, how many outs, the score; all that has to be considered,” Stratton explained. “But we’re all very excited to start playing ball.”
Allison Wood will again anchor the team at first base.
“Assistant coaches Ashley Lopez and Frank Parra have really been a huge help, emphasizing some of the more technical aspects, like outfield cutoffs,” she said.
Kelsie Dorpat added that the girls have spent serious time at practice studying the intricacies of what to do and when.
“That will pay off down the road big time,” she said. And Melanie Murphy said that she can really feel the team spirit coming alive.
Burton noted Parra has been concentrating on the outfield.
“When a girl catches a pop-up fly and knows precisely where to send it so the other team doesn’t score can make all the difference,” he said. “And our pitching coach, Ashley, has been showing them how to slide into the plate the right way; things we ignored out of necessity in years past.”
Amanda Cochran and Tylyn Linehan will catch, Shayna Grant will be at shortstop, Murphy at second and Dorpat will cover third. Many of the girls have played together since the fifth grade.
Because league rules this year have changed, the Falcons must be in the top three to qualify for a playoff berth at districts.
Last year, Cedarcrest and Archbishop Murphy went to state, but both teams have lost girls to graduation.
Not all, though. All-star pitcher Brittany Allen will be back on the mound for the Wildcats.
“She’s not unbeatable,” Burton noted. “Things in our league have evened out substantially.”
At 4 p.m. Friday, March 20 the girls welcome Cedar Park Christian for the home opener.
“I can hardly wait,” Stratton said.
Just what Coach Burton wants to hear.