With only two seniors returning to the roster, first-year Head Coach Brian Lambright knows there are challenges to be met.
Still, Lambright and assistant coach Kirk Holt are thrilled to be leading the Friday Harbor girls fast-pitch softball team in the 2014 season. They jumped at the chance after having some success and good times together coaching in the 8th grade fast-pitch league.
“We said if there were ever an opening that we should take a shot at it,” Lambright said. “There was, so we did. Coaching girls can be really rewarding, if you can get on their good side. You gotta know how to approach them.”
After coaching his own two daughters, Lambright ought to be well-versed on those angles of “approach.”
As for challenges, the first is in on the mound. The Wolverines will be without all-league pitcher Jean Melborne for the first time in four years. Lost as well to graduation is Melborne’s longtime battery mate and team slugger, Kaylen Meeker.
But junior Caitlyn Domenech proved a skilled and effective understudy for Melborne a year ago, and fellow junior Ronnie Hanson was equally adept at filling in behind the plate. So, there’s an answer for challenge No. 1.
Second up? The infield. Only one starter from last year’s infield is back, sophomore Madi Kincaid, at first base. A lingering ankle injury forced shortstop Allie Galt to forego the season. So, Lambright is counting on all-league center-fielder Emily Guard, one of the two seniors and speediest of the entire bunch, to fill the gap.
“We want our most reliable glove at shortstop,” he said.
As for quickness, team speed could prove to be the squad’s greatest asset. And its biggest challenge is certain to be its youth, Lambright said, adding that as many as five freshmen may be in the starting rotation. He said the younger players will need to develop a bit more of a “killer instinct” if they’re to match the competitiveness of the high school level.
“We’re preaching over and over that they have to stay focused, and that every pitch counts,” he said.
If all the challenges are met and the pieces fall into place, look for the Wolverines to improve on last year’s 10-10 overall record.