ILWACO - All coach Rick Bishop wants of his softball team is consistency and to cut down on the mental and physical mistakes. He is optimistic his team can do that and possibly improve on their school-record seven win season of a year ago.

In fast pitch softball, success always begins in the pitcher's circle and the Lady Fishermen will be counting heavily on junior Courtney Gilgore to continue to make pitching improvements. "Courtney pitched well, especially at the end of the season," Bishop says. "We are hopeful she will be consistent right from the start this year."

Tara Hankins was "steady" behind the plate last season and the senior looks to don the catcher's gear again this year. Kaysi Kelly and Aimee Banuet are expected to fill the right side of the infield at first and second base. Junior Lanie Kary will play shortstop and anchor the infield, while likely being one of the most consistent power hitters in the Trico. She was tabbed as honorable mention all-league last season. Bishop says, "At the moment third base is wide open." He then lists half a dozen candidates, all of whom have come up through the summer program that has been in place the past several years.

"It will be nice to start seeing our summer program pay dividends," Bishop relates. Centerfield will likely be the home of junior transfer Alex Moses and the other outfield positions are up for grabs between seniors Rachel Cutting and Sara Morris and underclassmen Amanda Pettey, Emily Thorne and Kate Denton. "Outfield was a weakness of ours last year, but this season I'm looking for it to be one of our strengths," the coach says.

With 25 players out for the diamond sport the Lady Fishermen will have a solid core of players for a junior varsity team and several of the younger Ilwaco players may be in the hunt for varsity playing time by mid-season according to Bishop. Alexis Couch will pitch, Ariel Weir catch, Kelsey Madsen will play first base and Ashley Tapio, Theresa Goodwin and Sabrina Gravvlee will be solid defensive and offensive players for the JVs.

Leea Lehman, a junior, and freshmen Trisha Agnitsch, Marie Boteilho, Molly Fay, Kelsey Gardner, Deanna Smallwood, Kimberly Stotts and Jessica Ziemer all add depth to the Lady Fishermen lineup and all will see playing time at the JV level if they aren't in the varsity starting lineup.

The junior varsity will again be coached by Randy Bloom and Kevin Ward will add his assistance as a volunteer. In the Trico Castle Rock, Kalama and LaCenter will be "tough" according to Bishop and in the Evergreen League he tabs Montesano and Onalaska as legitimate state championship contenders again. "I'm hoping we can play consistently enough to qualify for district," Bishop says. The top four Trico teams will compete with the top four from the Evergreen League at district.

"Last year we were in every game except two and I'm hoping we can be as consistent and competitive this season," Bishop concludes. Ilwaco will host Astoria in a double header March 15. Their first league game won't be until April 13 when the Trico season will consist of six double-dips to decide district seeding. Exact state allocations to the 1A tourney to be held in Moses Lake May 25-26 will not be made until the WIAA's count for spring sports is completed some time in April.

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