Poised to BATTLE?the BEST

Prior to practice last Saturday, the IHS fastpitch team, including Keiana Yasunaka and Grace McPhail, picked out their jersey numbers and uniforms for the season.

ILWACO — The good news is that Ilwaco returns five starters, including all-Trico shortstop Alexa Wirkkala and honorable mention Sydney Ward, along with Elleigh Kaino, Kady Kirby and Logan Manecke. “We are in a very strong league and district,” coach Rick Bishop says.

That is the bad news as Castle Rock is defending state champion and Montesano won the state title the year before. Both Onalaska and Toledo return many players off their teams that also placed at state in 2010. And to make the competition even more difficult Hoquiam was fourth in last year’s 2A state tournament and Ridgefield and Elma were also top-notch 2A teams a year ago and they are now in the 1A District IV ranks.

The Lady Fishermen have 30 players turning out for veteran coaches Bishop and assistant Randy Bloom and volunteer Kevin Ward. “Alexa is one of the best shortstops in the district defensively and she can hit for power. Elleigh at second base has shown more pop in her bat this spring and has speed and is a good defensive player,” Bishop said. “Kady, Sydney and Logan are all driving the ball, as well.”

Kirby is ticketed for first base after playing right field last season and Manecke may also play some at first base after seeing time at catcher last year. “Sydney and Megan Clark spent a great deal of time working on their pitching in the off-season and you can see that their work is paying off. They are pitching very well already,” Bishop praised. With a series of seven doubleheaders making up the entire Trico League schedule, the luxury of having two front-line pitchers could go a long way in competing for the title.

The key to Ilwaco’s bid for their first state tournament appearance ever may be at catcher as Cindy Pacheco is vying for the position after competing in track last season. “Cindy needs to come through for us because Logan’s knees are such that she may not be able to catch this year,” Bishop said.

Senior Justina Cornell could see action in the outfield and junior varsity starters Ashley Pettey, Madison Fogle, Victoria Thrasher and Keiana Yasunaka are also competing for playing time as outfielders. Grace McPhail could see action in the varsity infield and Nicole Kellin is a transfer who could start at either third or first base. Hailee Henington could also play in the outfield or be designated hitter and Jackie Smith could DH or play first base according to Bishop.

Also out for Ilwaco softball are Hailey Bundy, Dibb Suwanarat, Jessica Deibert, Felicia Fox, Shaylyn Heslen, Melissa Mayers, Georgia Pettey and Mikaela Smith. Freshmen include Kayla Cox, McKenzie Dalton, Addie Glick, Maia Sholin, Rachel Thrasher and Camille Rogers.

Ilwaco opens their season by hosting John Marshall March 18, and Toledo in their first Trico tilts March 22 in a doubleheader. March 18 the junior varsity will host a double-dip with Warrenton.

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