High expectations for diamond ladies

<p>With a wet field, the Lady Fishermen turned to the antiquated Kaino Gym to host practice last week.</p>

ILWACO — “The players are intense in practice and are trying to get better every second. The team this year is a very hard working group. Our varsity players consist of a lot of players from last year,” coach Mooch Smith said of the 2013 edition of the Lady Fishermen softball team.

Returning is second-team all-Trico League first baseman Jackie Smith and she should once again provide power as a hitter and steady play at first base. Honorable mention catcher Mackenzie Dalton and Darian Johnson at shortstop will be the sparkplugs defensively and offensively for the Lady Fishermen.

In the circle will be veteran pitcher Megan Clark, who can also provide punch at the plate. Clark’s strong performance and the three all-league selections will again anchor the Lady Fishermen’s strong bid to get a district tournament berth in the Trico League.

Rookies will be a big part of Ilwaco’s effort to excel. Hannah Liles at third base and Bre Kondos in the outfield have already demonstrated strong play. Natalie Tapio looks strong at second base and veterans Keiana Yasunaka and Rachel Thrasher add speed and depth to the outfield.

Brittney Olsen, Lorna Cummins, Michelle Aguayo and Emily McMillan will be steady and capable infielders for the junior varsity and could vie for a varsity position as the season plays out. Jennifer Navarre will take on catching duties for the JV squad. Kelsey Douglas, Bailey Gray and Maia Sholin should make up the outfield for the junior varsity.

“I think we will surprise people this year because of our talent and work ethic. The girls are also picking things up a lot faster, even the freshmen,” coach Smith said. “The sky is the limit for the Lady Fisherman this year, we just have to go out and do it.”

Smith sees Castle Rock, fresh off a volleyball state championship and a second-place finish in basketball, to be dominant in the league, and possibly the state. Woodland will also have a strong team and from there the Trico League looks “wide open” to Smith.

Veteran Randy Bloom will again head up the junior varsity and Erica Hazen will be a volunteer assistant. Ilwaco opens at Naselle for a non-league tune-up March 15 there and then the Lady Fishermen will travel Toledo in a Trico League Doubleheader March 19.

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