Fast-pitch softball winding down, district tournament next week
by Jack Kintner
First year head coach Rob Adams already has his team into the district playoffs May 24 at Sedro-Woolley. With last Tuesday night�s 7-1 win over Lakewood the girls are now 11-7 overall and have assured themselves of their first winning season since they went to fast pitch softball in 1999.
Adams served as assistant coach two years under Mike Dodd who coached the team through the transition. A 1991 Blaine graduate, Adams played second base under coach Gary Clausen on Blaine�s 1990 state championship baseball team as a junior.
Standout pitcher Krista Walter won the Lakewood game Tuesday night with all of her four strong pitches working for her. According to Adams, �she�s got a good rise ball, something that�s unique to softball where the pitch looks like it�s coming in at the knees and ends up around your chin. It�s a good strikeout pitch because the batter can�t change her hands fast enough to hit it. There�s nothing like it in baseball where the pitch rises like that, and she�s got a good one.�
Walter also throws a drop ball, a deceptive change-up and a blazing fastball that needs a three-year veteran like tiny but tough team co-captain Kristina Francis behind the plate to catch what can be close to the speed and power of a major-league fastball because of the decreased distances.
Walter is developing a fifth pitch called a screwball, �something like a major-league curve,� Adams said, �but it trails away from the batter.� She�s the team�s only senior, and though several junior and four-year colleges have expressed interest her plans are uncertain at this point.
The rest of the team is balanced and deep, and seems to be peaking at just the right time for a good district tournament. Shortstop Alisa Burk has been the team�s leading hitter this year and is third best in the league carrying a .389 average into last week�s game with Granite Falls. Designated hitter Jennifer Pike�s mastery of the slap hit gives the squad an Ichiro-like weapon for nearly always getting on base. The hard-hitting duo of outfielder Lacey Cheatwood and first baseman Kaylyn Bird, also known as the happiness twins - they come up to the plate batting fifth and sixth, they hit, everyone�s happy - had good run production all season both because of their ability to place hits and because of their raw power at the plate. Cheatwood shares the captains duties with Francis.
Junior center fielder Holly Steckler returned this year having been unanimous first team all-league last year; sophomore Nicole Riddle is a first year starter at third base, balancing her solid defense with a knack for getting clutch hits; freshman Aizia Lawson�s diversity has her role playing in several positions, something Adams says is his answer to Mark MacLemore. �Is that a word?� he asked, �can we call her MacLemorelike?�
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Sirita Lawson starts on second when she�s not on the mound, and Jennifer Lapensee is valued for her steadiness and leadership and, like Lawson, is most valuable as a role player.
The season highlight thus far was the team�s spring break trip to Las Vegas in April. �The kids wanted to play some good competition,� said coach Adams, �so we went to Nevada and found a school with almost 2,000 students and a really good team. We beat them 9-5 but they came back in the second game and shut us out 11-0.�
Blaine�s regular season finishes Thursday with the second game of a home-and-home series with Lynden Christian. The district tournament will be held at Sedro-Woolley May 24 and the state championships will be held at Wenatchee on May 30 and 31.
Tennis squad good mix of experienced, new players
by Jack Kintner
Coach Patrick Green, now in his fifth year, described this year�s team as a combination of some experienced players and others just learning the game as funding cuts meant that the JV squad was eliminated.
�We have a No. 1 doubles team, Linsey Taylor and Jessica Freeman, that�s got a good chance to get to the state tournament,� Green said. �Blaine is only one of three 2-A schools in the North Cascades Conference to offer tennis (South Whidbey and Lakewood are the others), even though east of the mountains all the 2-A schools do.�
Green should know. As a student at Cashmere High School he regularly competed at the state championship level.
�South Whidbey has a strong program as does Lakewood, so we actually have a sub-district that�s harder to get through than the bi-districts the following weekend,� Green said.
After the bi-district competition, the state championships for both boys and girls will be held in Yakima May 30 and 31.
Sub-district competition is being held Thursday at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon and involves the top two singles players and doubles teams from the three NCC schools. Blaine�s second doubles team in competition there, along with Taylor and Freeman, is sophomore Jennifer Kramer and junior Krista Jones. Sophomore Rochelle Jackson is the No. 1 singles player and junior Andrea Klemt is No. 2.
The rest of the squad consists of two freshmen, Sidney Stanley and Beth Black, and three juniors, Simran Kang, Lisa Kent and Jessica Teng.
�Rochelle has just picked up the sport this season, but she�s already developed the best serve we�ve seen all year,� Green said. �She was No. 3 just a couple of weeks ago, but with her serve won a couple of challenge matches and now, just in the last week, has become twice the player she was before. Last week she won the second and third sets from South Whidbey�s No. 1 singles player, and they�re last year�s state champs.�
Freshmen, sophomores comprise girls golf
by Jack Kintner
Coach Jody Maxon has a team of five this year made up of three sophomores and two freshmen, one of whom, Tegan Bokowski, is her No. 1 player and the other, Nicole Bailey, is No. 5. Sophomores Ainsley Nix (No. 2), Jessica Carrington (No. 3) and Lori Robertson (No. 4) round out the team.
The team�s experience is limited, though Bailey said she �played as a kid,� and lives on the eighteenth hole.
Bokowski has been at it for some years, but the rest, all the sophomores, are basically first-year golfers who have responded to Maxon�s coaching.
Maxon, who plays with a 15 handicap, cites last Thursday�s match at Shuksan as evidence of team progress this year.
Against teams from Nooksack and Mount Baker, Bokowski brought in 33 of the team�s 98 points. Nix had 23, Carrington 15, Robertson 14 and Bailey 13.
On the back nine, Bokowski shot a 56 that included blowing up to a 12 on the par five 13th.
The team plays its tenth and final match of the regular season today at Lake Padden with teams from Nooksack and Mount Baker. On May 19 the league finals will be held at Useless Bay on Whidbey Island.
The top 20 finishers meet the next day for the district championships at Bellingham Golf and Country Club and a chance to go on to the state championships at Sun Willows in Pasco.