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Bainbridge fastpitch ready to defend state title
While the Spartans don’t start regular-season play until Wednesday’s 4 p.m. home opener against Franklin, the defending state champions have been hard at work since November.
“This winter we’ve done a lot more than we usually have, knowing that we have a lot more spots to fill,” said senior captain Lauren Reichert. “A lot of these girls told me that they have improved just from taking each repetitive groundball after groundball, and that’s made the difference for them after all.”
Reichert, a pitcher, is one of two returning seniors for the squad, which claimed Bainbridge’s first fastpitch state title with a 6-2 win over Holy Names last year.
While bringing home a state championship has lifted some pressure off the team, the Spartans – who went 27-4 last season – have a “bounty on (their) heads,” Riechert said.
“People are going to be gunning for us,” sixth-year coach Liz McCloskey said. “Holy Names is going to be coming after us, and West Seattle. Our goal is to feel out the first couple weeks with our non-league games and see what best combination fits for us.”
The team returns seven varsity players from last season.
“Last year everything came together and worked out for us,” McCloskey said. “This year the girls got started early. Experience is the big thing with us this year – giving kids as many innings as possible.”
Four-year letter-winner Haylee Baker is also a team captain, and returns as the Spartans’ most experienced player.
“Coming back off that (injury), I think she’s a little more positive, full-blown starting the season off,” McCloskey said. “She’s going to pitch and play shortstop for us.”
The Spartans will be adjusting the lineup in the first few games, McCloskey said.
“It’s going to be a mismatch game across the board to kind of fill our spots,” she said. “All seven who are coming back have the experience.”
Reichert, who pitched and played third base last year, will also play shortstop.
Sophomore returner Hailey Willmann rounds out the Spartans’ retuning pitching staff. Willmann also started at second base last season.
Baker, Reichert and Willmann look to contine the success of a pitching staff that allowed only 19 earned runs in 31 games last season.
The team returns two juniors, Caitlin McCormick and Clara Dunn.
McCormick played outfield last season but will move to catcher.
“She’s not used to catching every game but she definitely brings a little bit of spunk back there,” McCloskey said. “A little different from what we’ve had back there – she’s been working on it.”
Dunn, who played right field last year, moves to center field.
“She’s got the speed, she’s got the wingspan of a center fielder and she’s one of my lefties and will likely become my leadoff hitter again – that’s the role she filled last year,” McCloskey said.
Dunn led the team in batting as a sophomore, averaging .421 with 14 RBIs.
Sophomore Taylor Greenfield will return at first base while Calli Moore will play outfield and second base.
The Spartans will have state championship rematches with Holy Names April 20 and May 4, and will host local rival Central Kitsap in their last home game May 7.
“I think we should be there in the top 10,” McCloskey said. “I do believe we’re that good of a team. We can compete with the best and I have some of the best kids in the state out there playing softball – and they’re playing for me.”
The pitching staff
Haylee Baker, sr.: 3-0, 25 IP, 0.84 ERA, 20 SO, 3 GS
Lauren Reichert, sr.: 5-0, 28 IP, 0.75 ERA, 41 SO, 5 GS
Hailey Willmann, jr.: 3-0, 15 IP, 0 ERA, 29 SO, 3 GS