Indians should battle Lakeside for NEA flag
Colville Highâs high-flying softball program is certainly capable of replicatingâand even improving uponâlast springâs fourth place finish at the State 1A Tournament in Spokane.
A break here or there (remember the Connell game?) and the Indians (24-7) could have been playing for a state championship late last May. Colville finished 3-2 at State and was involved in three one-run games.
But that was last year.
The Indians have to fill some big shoes and four spots in the line-up, but head coach Mandy Sumnerâs team is certainly deep enough to plug in players and make another run this spring to State.
The Indians were scheduled to open their season on Tuesday at home against West Valley. But that game had about as much chance of being played as the Seattle Mariners have of winning the American League West.
âWe havenât even practiced on fields yet,â Sumner said last weekend. âThe weather is bad and the West Valley game has been rescheduled for March 21.
âI am hoping we can get outside this week, but the weather doesnât look good. We need to see some live pitching.â
Weather permitting, Colville will open their season Saturday in a noon game at Shadle Park High School.
âWe are very prepared for that as long as they let us play the game in the gym,â Sumner quipped.
Any talk of Colville softball starts in the circle, where veteran Jolene Rogers is ready for an outstanding senior season. The right-hander, the Northeast A Leagueâs Player of the Year and an All-State first team selection as a junior, is a softball playerâperiod.
Rogers, who will play first and third when she isnât pitching, worked on her game all year long and didnât take any time off.
âIf anyone is ready, she is,â Sumner says of Rogers, who will also hit anywhere from three to five in the order. âWhen I say she works all year long, Iâm not kidding. There is summer and fall softball, followed by winter workouts that entail pitching (Tuesday/Thursday morning) workouts and Monday/Wednesday hitting sessions.â
Rogers is also a team leader âwho is always the first one to practice, set up, get gearâŠand the last one to leave. She has matured into an impressive athlete. Jo should have an excellent season.â
She has signed a letter of intent to play softball at Northwest Christian University (Eugene, Oregon).
Fellow senior Tasji Urhausen is one of the most decorated Colville High softball players ever. She has been a first team league all-star since her freshman season (outfield). A second team all-state pick as a junior, Urhausen will be back at third base this spring.
âTasji is a four-year varsity starter who brings the most experience of anyone coming back to this team,â Sumner says. âAs a senior, she has a long list of accolades and she will be a big part of this team again this spring.â
Urhausen, who will play college softball in Spokane next year, is one of the teamâs top hitters and will be somewhere in the top three in the order.
A big bat
âSheâs a power lefty who brings such positive energy to practice and to games,â Sumner says.
Senior Cassie Cote is another four-year varsity returnee and an all-state nominee. One of the teamâs fastest players, Cote is a short game specialist with a deft lefty drag bunt and slap.
âShe eats teams up with her skill at perfectly placing bunts,â Sumner pointed out. âPair that with a high on base percentage and a great eye at the plateâŠyou have yourself a pretty strong candidate for a new leadoff hitter.â
Cote will take over in centerfield for graduated Erin Torgerson and in the leadoff spot for Heather Bishop, who is playing at North Idaho College.
âCassie is ready for the challenge,â Sumner says. âLike Tasji, she is no rookie and has a great deal of experience.â
Senior Rylee Wittmeyer is rounding into shape after rehabbing a serious knee injury that kept her off the field last season.
âRylee is working very hard to get herself back up to speed,â her coach says. âRylee is a three-sport athlete and a great teammate. She is in great physical shape and is making a strong run for a spot in the field.â
Wittmeyer can play second base, first and the outfield.
âShe is one of the most selfless and supportive teammates I have ever had the privilege of coaching,â Sumner says.
Jammie Madonna also has some big shoes to fill this spring. Sheâll step in behind the dish and replace Amanda Hamilton, who has taken her considerable skills to the softball diamond at Community Colleges of Spokane.
Madonna may be something of a rookie catcher, but by all accounts, sheâll do just fine catching Rogers.
âRookie really isnât a word youâd use to describe Jammie,â Sumner points out. âShe has high collegiate level pop to pop time (a strong, quick arm), a very strong bat and the tenacity needed to step up and lead her team as a catcher. She will do whatever it takes to help her team win.â
Madonna was a second team all-league pick last year as the teamâs first baseman and second team all-state.
âShe spent her off-season playing summer and fall ball, but she also attended collegiate camps to improve her defensive and offensive skill sets. This could be a huge breakout year for her.â
Taylor Kellum is also ready for a breakout year. Back and firmly entrenched at shortstop, Kellum has the teamâs strongest arm and quickest feet.
A lefty slapper, Kellum has been working on her power at the plate, according to her coach. A second team all-league and all-state selection, she is another softball-only athlete who spends her off-season playing softball.
Leanna Carr is another returning second team all-league pick (right-field). Carr has been in the varsity outfield grass since her freshman year.
Because of the hole at second base created when Heather Bishop took her game to North Idaho College, Carr may be moved to second base.
âShe loves right-field, and if all goes well, Leanna will be able to stay there,â Sumner says. âBut there is a chance, because of her sure hands and feet, that she may need to move to second base.
âWe all know she is a true team player and will do whatever is necessary to support her team and her teammates.â
Jalene Howell will get some time at first base and in a designated hitterâs role for the Indians.
âWe see Jalene as a long ball hitter who has the strength to hit the ball over the fence,â Sumner says.
The biggest contingent in the program is the sophomore class, even after several sophomores gave up the sport this year.
McKenna Cabbage returns to the varsity as the teamâs back-up pitcher and heir apparent to Rogers in the circle.
âWithout really trying, McKenna can pitch the ball at speeds other pitchers work for years to attain,â Sumner said.
As a freshman last season, and in her varsity debut, she fanned her first three batters. Cabbage has a Bi-District start under her belt and also threw during the league season last spring. Will start at first base when not pitching. Could also see some time at third base.
âMcKenna is an excellent athlete who shows huge loyalty to her teammates and to the programâŠshe comes to practice every day with the dedication to work as hard as possible.â
Cabbage has been working hard on her hitting and could have a breakout season.
Jessica Wittmeyer is another varsity returner. Sheâs a front-runner for the left-field spot with her athletic skills and great speed.
âShe is working hard every practice to nail down her angles to the ball and to increase her potential in our offense,â Sumner says.
There are several other sophomores that will contribute some varsity time this spring. Among them are Chloe Baun (infield/outfield), Chantel Nussbaum (outfield) and Miranda Tostensen (outfield).
âAnd there are always some freshmen who are not named, but who will vie for the opportunity to swing and get their first taste of the high school varsity experience.â
âWe are looking for a great season,â Sumner said. âFor sure, with four positions to fill by different players, we may remain fluid for awhile, but as always, we will find our fit as the season goes along.â