Six freshmen to start for Skyline fastpitch squad
March 18, 2014
By Neil Pierson
There are definite disadvantages in having freshmen fill six of nine starting roles, but Skyline High School fastpitch coach Ken Brooks also believes there’s a bright side.
“No one knows anything about us,” Brooks said. “All they know is we’ve got a bunch of freshmen, and so we’re excited. Every year we get out here, it’s just a new group, and we only lose two seniors this year. Next year, we lose no seniors.”
The Spartans have struggled to recruit players for a few seasons — 14 turned out this spring, 12 the year before. But the team isn’t making excuses, and knows it can win if the chemistry is right and individuals meet expectations.
And Brooks isn’t cutting the team any slack because of its youthfulness.
“They all play at a high level on their select teams, so just because we’re young, it doesn’t mean we don’t expect them to do good things here,” he said.
Skyline finished 8-13 overall, 6-8 in Class 4A KingCo Conference games last season. There are reasons to believe the win totals could rise, and maybe the best reason is the team’s pitching depth.
Although the Spartans lost their top hurler, Winter Ridgeway, who transferred to Issaquah, they’ll have three contributors in the circle. Caroline Bowman, a freshman, figures to start most games, and she’ll be backed up by fellow ninth-grader Molly Spaniac and returning sophomore Annika Hildebrand.
First baseman Riley Davidson, a captain and one of two seniors on the squad, is excited about what she’s seeing from the trio in preseason workouts.
“We definitely have a better pitching staff than years before,” Davidson said, “and just the fact that they bring different aspects to it — they all throw a variety of pitches — it’ll be different for all other teams to see.”
Davidson is looking to provide leadership to the program in her final season. She sees parallels between 2014 and her freshman season of 2011, when the program had only two seniors.
But she also projects confidence about her younger teammates’ skill levels, noting the experience and competitive fire they’ve gained through select fastpitch.
Signs point toward KingCo being an offensive-minded conference this season, and Brooks thinks he has several big hitters, including Davidson, Hildebrand, Bowman and Spaniac.
Davidson thinks the Spartans are capable of manufacturing runs when they need to.
“We definitely have a lot of speed, and we definitely do have the small-ball aspect,” she said. “We have a good chunk of power, so we can definitely use all aspects of the game.”