Fastpitchers want to make another trip to state

Hailey Willmann will be the ace for Bainbridge this season. - John Becerra Jr./Staff Photo
Hailey Willmann will be the ace for Bainbridge this season.
— image credit: John Becerra Jr./Staff Photo

Eight returners make up another strong Spartan squad.

The Bainbridge High School softball team is on an unprecedented run of success.

Head coach Liz McCloskey does not expect it to end anytime soon.

“A lot of kids are starting younger,” she said. “They’re starting to play the sport at a young age and are sticking with it. It benefits us and it benefits the future of this program.”

Last season, despite losing some of the best players in school history, the Spartans won its third straight Metro League Mountain Division title, going undefeated for the first time ever in league play.

They took third at the Metro League tournament and at the district tournament, then overcame a rain delay to win three straight games to make the finals of the state tournament, where they were blanked by Sedro Woolley.

Despite coming up short in the team’s attempt to win its second straight 3A championship, senior co-captain Caitlin McCormick said that the Cubs were simply better.

“We did not think we were going to get there last year,” she said. “But when we did make (the finals) it was a good feeling, because we worked hard that year.”

This season the Spartans lose league MVP Haylee Baker and Lauren Reichert to graduation, but eight players return to form another formidable lineup.

Along with McCormick, senior Clara Dunn, juniors Hailey Willmann, Taylor Greenfield, Kristi Worley, Cali Moore and sophomores Erin Kinney and Rosie Kerstetter are back.

Willmann won many honors last season, including Associated Press all-state, Seattle Times’ Star Times, All-Metro League and All-Kitsap News Group first-team selections. Dunn earned Associated Press all-state second team, All-Metro League and All-KNG honors.

Greenfield, Kinney and McCormick were All-Mountain Division selections while Kerstetter, Moore and Worley were honorable mentions.

Sophomores Emily Schneider, Kayla Estes, Erin Jones and Katie Raben will move up from the JV squad while freshman Alison Reichert – Lauren’s younger sister – is a newcomer to the team.

The main strength of the Spartans will be in the ring once again, as Willmann, Raben and Reichert form a strong pitching staff.

“It’ll be nice to have three pitchers again,” she said. “And to not lose any of them at the end of the year will be even better.”

What stands out about the three to McCloskey is their versatility.

“Each pitcher brings a different arsenal,” she said. “Each pitcher has different pitches that they throw differently. Some throw harder than others while some have the movement” on their pitches.

McCormick, who has been part of a battery with Willmann on various teams since she was 10 years old, said she will have no problems with catching the three pitchers.

Another strength will be at the plate, as all the returners have solid numbers and speed, with Dunn and Alison Reichert – both lefties – leading the way.

The main concern for McCloskey is to replace Lauren Reichert, Baker and Willmann (who is moving from second base to filling the number one pitcher role) in the field, but she said she has several players who have stepped up to fill those spots.

While McCloskey and McCormick expect to make it through the Metro League even with Holy Names, Nathan Hale and West Seattle as competition, it will get tougher for Bainbridge once districts roll around. But they are ready to compete.

“That’s our goal every year,” McCloskey said. “We’ve done it for four straight years and we’re not going to back down now.”

Katie Raben is one of several players ready to get Bainbridge back to the state tournament.

John Becerra Jr./Staff Photo




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