Inexperience and a small roster led to lots of losses and even more errors for the 2014 Falcon fastpitch team.
This year, gone are the first-time softball players. Every player has at least played fastpitch before, and the Falcons are loaded with savvy seniors ready to improve on the 4-17 overall record and quick postseason elimination.
“We’re determined to come back stronger and prove ourselves this season,” said Falcon senior Chloe Huffman, a four-year varsity infielder.
One of the major problems was pitching inexperience. South Whidbey gave up a lot of walks, which put pressure on the defense with runners on base. That was followed by errors, which led to unearned runs.
Pitching problems may be solved this season by a pair of freshmen ready to take the mound. Head coach Tim Collins’ daughter, Mackenzee Collins, and Bella Northup are poised to lead the way in addition to sophomore Kacie Hanson, whose talents as an infielder will be utilized more this season with their addition.
“I feel like it’s definitely going to take pressure off the team,” Huffman said.
South Whidbey has reached the postseason each of the past three seasons. The seniors intend to make it four.
Standing in the way are Sultan and Cedar Park Christian, both newcomers to the Cascade Conference 1A ranks. Cedar Park reached the state tournament 10 years in a row, a streak that was broken in 2013.
Senior catcher Anne Madsen said she imagined Cedarcrest and Lakewood would vie for the league championship and had heard that Cedar Park was good, but having never played the Eagles she was uncertain of their talent.
As the catcher, Madsen praised heap on the pitching trio, especially Hanson for being the lone hurler in 2014.
“Kacie did an awesome job last year,” Madsen said, adding that Hanson’s strength was consistency.
Of the freshmen pitchers, Madsen said Northup has a rising fastball and Collins is better at location. Together, they could be quite the tandem.
“They’re really good,” she said.
At this point last season, the Falcons were working on a lot of basics. Just in the second week, the Falcons drilled on situational plays.
Madsen, along with four other players, regularly hit the gym together through the winter. She also got fellow senior Abby Hodson, who played varsity fastpitch her freshman and sophomore years, to return after a year off.
“We’re more experienced,” Madsen said. “… Now we know what we’re looking at.”