Sports

"Fastpitchers off and runningCoach Steve Nelson works on building a program, not just a one-year wonder."

"Steve Nelson may be new to the BHS fastpitch program, but he's hardly a stranger to many of its players.A 10-year coaching veteran, he's worked with several elite area youth teams which have included current players - in particular, senior Brooke Hilton.When he discusses this year's team and says that its strength is pitching, he's referring primarily to Hilton, who joined the team last year as a transfer from Utah.She's also a member of the Kitsap Angels, the 18-under Gold Level team that Nelson helps to coach.She's one of the best pitchers in the Northwest and unquestionably the best thrower that Bainbridge has ever had, he says. She already has several scholarship offers, and more are on the way.While Hilton could pitch virtually every game - Nelson says that the pitching motion in fastpitch is natural and therefore places little strain on the arm - he's not going to rely on her totally.I want to build a program, not a one-year wonder, he says. So sophomore Chrissie Haugen and freshman Sara Robinson are likely to get a few starts.Robinson is part of what Nelson considers an exceptional freshman class, with four members of the class of 2004 on the 14-girl team. They're all big kids and physically impressive, he says.With Hilton as the team's lone senior and the four freshmen, there is definitely a youthful look to the team.That does create a lack of experience and they have some bad habits to break, Nelson says. So we'll win some and lose some.In coaching, there's a saying that games aren't won, they're lost. So one of our goals is to eliminate mental errors that contribute to losses.Freshman Ashley Anderson - a good hitter and fielder - will start at first. Hilton will play there when she doesn't pitch.Junior Caiti Kruse would have been the starter at second, but a slow-to-heal volleyball injury that caused her to miss the entire basketball season has extended into the spring. Nelson expects her temporary replacement - Kruse plans on returning after spring break - to come from among freshman Alexis Hujar, sophomore Chrissie Haugen, and juniors Bianca Quezada and Sarah Camiel.The shortstop will be freshman Logan Mohr. She hasn't played much summer ball, but she's a good hitter, Nelson says.Angie Rapada will play third. She's an experienced player who's played a lot of summer ball and has a solid bat, the coach says.The outfielders include Robinson, Quezada, Haugen and the team's cleanup hitter, Chelsea McGraw.Catching will be junior Amanda Perna, another returnee.She'll probably play in college if she sticks with it, Nelson says.The other girls on the roster - sophomore Alyson Joy and junior Lizzie Greene - are utility players. But the roster is not hard and fast, and several girls currently on the JV roster are likely to get some varsity experience later in the season.We'll learn a lot in the next few weeks, Nelson says. "

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