Young Issaquah softball team finds strength in pitching
March 11, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Eagles welcome Skyline transfers
With just two seniors on its 2014 squad, youth is the Issaquah High School softball team’s overriding theme.
That’s why, more than ever, second-year coach Ron Hatlen is preaching mental toughness and resiliency.
“We’re really going to work on the mental side for these guys,” he said. “I mean, they’ve all played for so long. It’s a matter of trying to turn their brain off when they’re out there.”
Last year’s team went 6-14, and at times, Hatlen said he noticed the girls tense up and start thinking too much. He’s hoping a well-oiled approach to practice will loosen girls up during the game.
“I’m trying to get them to where they put 100 percent effort into every practice and when they come to games, it’s easy,” he said.
With such a young team, the future looks promising for the Eagles, and it all starts in the pitching circle. Pitcher Kylie Bevell returns to the team and is fully healthy, Hatlen said. Last year, the junior was returning from a back injury and wasn’t at full strength.
The Eagles also received a key transfer in former Skyline High School pitcher Winter Ridgeway. Ridgeway, also a junior, and Bevell will provide a solid one-two punch in the circle this year.
“With Kylie and Winter, our team is going to see legitimate varsity pitching all the time in practice,” he said.
Issaquah returns honorable mention all-league performers Michelle Fowler, Justi Johnson and Sydney Schultz. Fowler, a junior, and Johnson, a sophomore, are also the team’s captains.
The Eagles have one other honorable mention all-league performer on their roster, but she didn’t wear the purple and gold last year. Issaquah welcomed another transfer from Skyline in catcher Tia Hedman.
Just like the year before, Issaquah did not have the numbers to field a junior varsity team, so the Eagles will carry 16 girls on their varsity squad.
Hatlen said he has noticed a great deal of enthusiasm on this year’s team. Girls are already planning team-bonding events and working on coming together.
“They’re pretty solid,” Hatlen said of his team. “It’s just a matter of finding the puzzle pieces with 16 girls.”