Fastpitchers eager to head back to state

Lindsay Wilmann is one of the top pitchers in the league. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Lindsay Wilmann is one of the top pitchers in the league.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Spartans want to make their case as a title contender.

Mention the word “Sammamish” to anyone and they may think you’re talking about the town, the lake or the tribe itself.

Mention the word “Sammamish” to the Bainbridge fastpitch team and you’ll get an entirely different reaction.

“We talk about it all the time,” said Brittany Wisner of their near upset of the Totems last May, only to have it taken away on a bad call. “But we’ve learned from it and we’re just going to take it and hopefully learn from it this year and do better this year.”

To do better than last year is one of the goals of the Spartans, as they went 19-9 and went 1-2 at the state tournament.

They lost four seniors, including three starters in Stephanie Wagner, Meika Monroe and Chelsea Baker, but nine girls return to make up a strong team.

Along with the co-captains – senior first baseman/pitcher Karen Robinson and junior catcher/second baseman Wisner – junior infielder Cara Thompson, junior pitcher Lindsay Willmann, junior second baseman/outfielder Chelsie Kakela, junior first baseman/outfielder Victoria Wellbrock, junior outfielder Kaitlin Gaspich, sophomore pitcher/infielder Haylee Baker and sophomore outfielder Camille Moore make up a young veteran team that has head coach Liz McCloskey eager to see what they can do with another year of experience under their belt.

“It’s very exciting,” she said of having most of a lineup that posted an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .874 return. “There’s very few coaches out there that can say they have four pitchers and that they can say they have four very accurate, lot of ball movement and very quick pitchers.

“Having Haylee and Lindsay back again is even better.”

The two – along with Robinson – combined for a 1.70 ERA and held opponents to a .193 batting average last season.

Five new players join the team this season in sophomore pitcher Lauren Reichert, sophomore third baseman/outfielder Delcy Stoddard, freshman infielder Clara Dunn, freshman catcher Caitlin McCormick and freshman third baseman/outfielder Larkin Sheldon.

McCloskey is excited to add them to the roster.

“Lauren played JV last year and she’s a talented pitcher,” she said. “She’s got a good handle on the ball and good movement.

“She’s an awesome little pitcher,” Wisner said. “She’s a very talented athlete.

“I’m excited to have Caitlin on the team as my backup catcher,” she continued. “She’s a very good ballplayer.”

The additions will help as McCloskey tries to figure out who will replace Wagner at third and who will be in the outfield this season.

“We’ve got a few holes that we’re looking to fill,” she said. “We’re still working through the kinks, but we’ve tried a couple different things with Lauren at third and Lindsay and Delcy may play over there.

“We’re going to move a few things around.”

McCloskey is still trying to work on a lineup for the days when Willmann, Baker, Robinson or Reichert pitch.

She plans on moving Kakela from second base to centerfield.

“It’s kind of nice to have those options to fill those spots.”

But Robinson said she’s happy if she doesn’t throw one pitch this season.

“Lindsay, Haylee and Lauren are all better than I am,” she said.

The team as a whole, McCloskey feels, can be the best in the Metro League.

They’ll get competition from Holy Names and Bishop Blanchet along with West Seattle and Eastside Catholic.

Wisner said they’re motivated to do well, especially against the Cougars.

“We’re gunning for Holy Names this year,” she said of the private school that has won every matchup since McCloskey took over in 2005. “I know we’re not going to lose to them again this year.”

And McCloskey said she doesn’t feel they’ll lose much this year.

“They’ve been working hard since day one,” she said of the time they’ve worked in the offseason. “They’re pushing one another to be better.

“They want to be successful.”

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