Indians should battle Lakeside for NEA flag
Colville High’s high-flying softball program is certainly capable of replicating—and even improving upon—last spring’s 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 Sumner’s 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.
“We haven’t even practiced on fields yet,” Sumner said last weekend. “The weather is bad and the West Valley game has been rescheduled for March 21.
“I am hoping we can get outside this week, but the weather doesn’t look good. We need to see some live pitching.”
Weather permitting, Colville will open their season Saturday in a noon game at Shadle Park High School.
“We are very prepared for that as long as they let us play the game in the gym,” 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 League’s Player of the Year and an All-State first team selection as a junior, is a softball player—period.
Rogers, who will play first and third when she isn’t pitching, worked on her game all year long and didn’t take any time off.
“If anyone is ready, she is,” Sumner says of Rogers, who will also hit anywhere from three to five in the order. “When I say she works all year long, I’m not kidding. There is summer and fall softball, followed by winter workouts that entail pitching (Tuesday/Thursday morning) workouts and Monday/Wednesday hitting sessions.”
Rogers is also a team leader “who is always the first one to practice, set up, get gear…and the last one to leave. She has matured into an impressive athlete. Jo should have an excellent season.”
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.
“Tasji is a four-year varsity starter who brings the most experience of anyone coming back to this team,” Sumner says. “As a senior, she has a long list of accolades and she will be a big part of this team again this spring.”
Urhausen, who will play college softball in Spokane next year, is one of the team’s top hitters and will be somewhere in the top three in the order.
A big bat
“She’s a power lefty who brings such positive energy to practice and to games,” Sumner says.
Senior Cassie Cote is another four-year varsity returnee and an all-state nominee. One of the team’s fastest players, Cote is a short game specialist with a deft lefty drag bunt and slap.
“She eats teams up with her skill at perfectly placing bunts,” Sumner pointed out. “Pair that with a high on base percentage and a great eye at the plate…you have yourself a pretty strong candidate for a new leadoff hitter.”
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.
“Cassie is ready for the challenge,” Sumner says. “Like Tasji, she is no rookie and has a great deal of experience.”
Senior Rylee Wittmeyer is rounding into shape after rehabbing a serious knee injury that kept her off the field last season.
“Rylee is working very hard to get herself back up to speed,” her coach says. “Rylee 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.”
Wittmeyer can play second base, first and the outfield.
“She is one of the most selfless and supportive teammates I have ever had the privilege of coaching,” Sumner says.
Jammie Madonna also has some big shoes to fill this spring. She’ll 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, she’ll do just fine catching Rogers.
“Rookie really isn’t a word you’d use to describe Jammie,” Sumner points out. “She 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.”
Madonna was a second team all-league pick last year as the team’s first baseman and second team all-state.
“She 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.”
Taylor Kellum is also ready for a breakout year. Back and firmly entrenched at shortstop, Kellum has the team’s 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.
“She loves right-field, and if all goes well, Leanna will be able to stay there,” Sumner says. “But there is a chance, because of her sure hands and feet, that she may need to move to second base.
“We all know she is a true team player and will do whatever is necessary to support her team and her teammates.”
Jalene Howell will get some time at first base and in a designated hitter’s role for the Indians.
“We see Jalene as a long ball hitter who has the strength to hit the ball over the fence,” 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 team’s back-up pitcher and heir apparent to Rogers in the circle.
“Without really trying, McKenna can pitch the ball at speeds other pitchers work for years to attain,” 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.
“McKenna is an excellent athlete who shows huge loyalty to her teammates and to the program…she comes to practice every day with the dedication to work as hard as possible.”
Cabbage has been working hard on her hitting and could have a breakout season.
Jessica Wittmeyer is another varsity returner. She’s a front-runner for the left-field spot with her athletic skills and great speed.
“She is working hard every practice to nail down her angles to the ball and to increase her potential in our offense,” 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).
“And 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.”
“We are looking for a great season,” Sumner said. “For 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.”