By AARON MANAGHAN
The few, the proud, the Olympic softball seniors.
While the Trojans have just three returning senior starters and five seniors overall, the class is a strong one that coach Rachel Davenport said Olympic will look to as the season begins.
“The team’s softball strength this year will be the senior class,” she said. “The three starting seniors are the strongest group of three I have coached at the same time. The team seems to have good values and a set of standards anyone would be proud to live up to.”
Led by catcher Athena Rosario and utility standouts Kelsey Anchors and Rachel Haas, the Trojans have a dangerous core to work with this season. The team also has seniors Amy Howard and Pam Murphy.
“This senior class is one of the most special I have coached,” Davenport said.
After that, the team will be young. But with a strong senior class for Oly’s youngsters to learn from, Davenport is excited.
“I am looking forward to the amount of newcomers to the program. We have some young talent and fresh faces,” she said. “The new players added to the mix of the strongest three seniors I have had at the same time sets the stage for an interesting year.”
With the elimination of the junior high fastpitch and baseball programs, Davenport has a strong group of ninth graders she said will see varsity time.
“We have a group of strong incoming freshman,” Davenport said.
Freshmen Kira Varady and Linzee Orteza are both starters while Raelynn Masters got a start thanks to a team rules violation. Sophomores Jessica Klump (the starter at third base) and Stacie Longmire will also factor in.
With youth will come difficulties, Davenport said.
“The team needs to build confidence,” she said. “With so many young players aggression is yet to emerge. When it does I think you will see a different team.”
The Trojans opened the season Wednesday with a 14-4 home loss to South Kitsap, which capitalized on five Oly errors.
“All the credit goes to South Kitsap for capitalizing on our weaknesses that were exposed on that day,” Davenport said.
Returner Kelsey Stickland started in the loss, while Orteza was 2-3 and Rosario 1-2. Oly led 4-1 through two innings.
Davenport said in the early going, team work is proving to be essential.
“For our team to win this year the team will have to play as one,” she said. “We came into this season divided and they now understand that we will only be as good as their attitudes are toward each other.”
That is a prospect that excites Davenport more than all else.
“If we play our game and work together as a team there is no telling where we will end up at the end of May,” she said. “I have never wanted to visit Tacoma so badly.”