LONG BEACH -With only two returning lettermen and facing what is predicted to be the toughest 2A league competition in the state, Ilwaco High School softball coach Rick Bishop has reason to be cautious in his predictions for his team.
The Lady Fishermen have 23 out for the sport, one of the largest groups ever, and he has strong praise for Nicole Adams and Codie Jenkins, his senior stalwarts. Adams will pitch and play infield, and Jenkins will likely see most of her playing time as catcher.
"Nicole can be one of the better pitchers in the league if she continues to develop control," Bishop said.
Jessica Johnson is a transfer who should be a starter in the outfield. Maija Pedersen and Carley Taylor will compete to play second base according to the coach.Ashley Kitzman, fresh off an MVP season in basketball, will play first base. Rachel Zimmerman, Heather Bartlett and Brianna Smith are up from last year's JV's and are expected to move into starting roles.
Ashley Garrett, Becky Graff and Jessie Landeros also played for the JV and saw some varsity playing time last season; they will round out what may be as solid a varsity squad as the Lady Fishermen have had in recent times. The bad news is, LaCenter, Ridgefield and Woodland are all predicted as state-champion contenders and Castle Rock and White Salmon are supposed to be solid teams as well.
Ten freshmen join Monica Smith on coach Randy Bloom's junior varsity squad. Bloom said the team has "oodles of talent and enthusiasm. The team just lacks experience."
Allison Brooks, Samantha Engel, Kyleigh Friend, Tara Hankins and Bethany Heimbigner are among the 10 frosh out for softball.
Other ninth graders include Anna Kitzman, Krystal McCaughan, Chelsea Ostgaard, Erin Shaw and Amber Stanley.The Lady Fishermen opened against Ridgefield at home March 16 and will host Hockinson Thursday March 18 at the Long Beach Field at 4 p.m.