Lady Bulldogs have the tools to defend

Defending NE 2B champs hope to get on field this weekDon’t talk to Kettle Falls High softball coach Amy Owens and her team about the effects of Global Warming. As far as Owens and the Lady Bulldogs are concerned, it has been pretty much the return of the ice age. Welcome to Northeast Washington, spring sports and all those “liquid” schedules. As of this writing, KFHS still hadn’t been able to get on their field because of the snow, ice and water. No, don’t talk about infield dirt. Owens and her girls are still looking at mud.“It’s been tough,” conceded Owens, in her second year at the helm. “We’ve been chopping at ice and digging trenches to drain the water.”Kettle Falls was scheduled to host Omak last Saturday. No, there were no miracles forthcoming and the Lady Bulldogs didn’t have room to play that one in the gym. Moving the game to Omak didn’t help either. Their field wasn’t playable on a wet weekend.Chewelah scheduled at home on FridayOwens and her girls are working to get the field in shape for a single game on Friday (4 p.m.) against Chewelah.It was an auspicious inaugural campaign for the Kettle Falls product last spring. Owens led the Lady Bulldogs to a 22-4 season, a Northeast 2B (Bi-County) League championship, a District 7 2B title and State berth in Yakima.Kettle Falls lost six key seniors off that team. All six players started.“We have some holes to fill,” conceded Owens, who greeted a big group of 42 players back in late February when workouts began in the gym. Those numbers, and the fact that KFHS won’t field a C squad, meant that Owens and her staff had to go through the cut process for the first time.“That was awful,” Owens conceded. “We couldn’t find any games (for a C squad) so we had to cut.”When it was all said and done, 33 players tried out for varsity and junior varsity spots; 27 were kept.PROSPECTSOwens concedes that last season there really were no expectations. Well, this time around, KFHS isn’t going to sneak up on anyone in their second season at Class 2B (the Lady Bulldogs will be forced to move up to the Class 1A Northeast A League next fall for at least the two-year cycle).There are four seniors on this year’s team—Jessica West, Sam Adams, Dylanie Robertson and Peyton Rogalette.“The seniors are stepping up and providing good leadership,” Owens said, adding that “I think this group will be competitive. I think that at this point, if we had an indoor softball program, we’d be very tough.“The girls are working hard. They are focused and there seems to be good chemistry. We just need to get on our field.”Back in the circle for Kettle Falls will be junior Krislin McInelly. She logged a lot of innings last season and will be relied on to carry the bulk of the load this spring.“She has worked at it and attended some camps,” Owens said. “Krislin also is a strong player offensively and has a good bat.”OUTLOOKThose six seniors will be hard to replace and replicating a season where losses were few and far between may be hard to duplicate. But that said, the Lady Bulldogs will certainly be in the Northeast 2B mix with the likes of veteran Colfax, Lind-Ritzville/Sprague, Reardan and Northwest Christian.One thing is certain, Owens will be working harder to implement the “Short Game” into her team’s offensive arsenal this spring. There is good speed on the team and she plans to utilize that.“I learned a lot at the state tournament last year about the short game (bunting, slapping),” she said. “I was never really big on that, but it’s a huge part of the game…we will bring that element in this spring.”THE VARSITYSeniors—Sam Adams, Dylanie Robertson, Jessica West and Peyton Rogalette.Juniors—Annie Anderson, Kelsey Eslick, Katie Harris, Krislin McInelly, Jessica Passmore, Serena Pounds.Sophomores—Kourtney Keenan and Emily Owens.SCHEDULEFriday, March 23—Chewelah at Kettle Falls, 4Saturday, March 24—At Liberty (DH), noonTuesday, March 27—At Northwest Christian (DH), 2 p.m.Saturday, April 7—At Colfax (DH), noonSaturday, April 14—Lind-Ritzville at Kettle Falls (DH), noonThursday, April 19—At Priest River, 4 p.m.Tuesday, April 24—At Reardan (DH), 3 p.m.Tuesday, May 1—Davenport at Kettle Falls (DH), 3 p.m.Thursday, May 3—At Freeman, 4:30 p.m.