By WESLEY REMMER
Last year’s Bremerton High School varsity fastpitch season was nothing short of forgettable. The squad went winless and the team folded midway through the season due to roster issues.
But that was then, this is now and the revamped 2008 club cares only about the future.
“This year, they’re not allowed to talk about last year,” said first-year coach Octavia Spann, who replaces Dirk Wiesbech. “We’re looking for a whole new season this year.”
A series of unforgiving circumstances, including injuries and academic ineligibility, forced BHS to cancel its 2007 fastpitch season after playing only a portion of the schedule.
“They were bitter about the team folding,” Spann said of the players who returned this year for another go-round. “They have a totally different outlook on this season.”
It took a collaborative effort between players, coaches, parents and the school to generate a buzz large enough to field tryouts, Spann said.
But the ‘07 players came together and convinced friends from school to give fastpitch a whirl, delivering 48 players to tryouts.
“It made me so mad,” Kayla Abernathy-Rose said of losing last year’s team. “It pushes me harder and harder to win.”
And Abernathy-Rose, a senior this season and starter at first base, believes BHS will be competitive in Olympic League play.
“(We want) to show all the other teams we can win,” she said. “I want to hit a home run and win at least four or five games.”
Abernathy-Rose said Spann’s energy has motivated the team to put forth 100 percent effort every time it’s players step on the field.
“She’s really energetic and gets us pumped up to play,” she said.
Spann believes it is the coach’s responsibility to foster a positive environment — both on the field and in the dugout.
“I am very excited about the game and when they see me excited, they get excited,” she said.
Spann’s high energy level, meanwhile, already has trickled down to her players, especially senior catcher Shandra Callen.
“She’s a little spark plug,” Spann said. “She’s got a lot of guts, that kid.”
Callen started behind the plate in BHS’ season-opener Tuesday, but persistent rain forced the umpires to call the game in the second inning.
BHS jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead on starting pitcher Dechante Heggie’s two-run single to center field.
But the rain picked up in the second inning and Heggie struggled to grip the ball. She yielded seven runs on a series of wild pitches, passed balls and base hits before the umps had seen enough.
Because it was a non-league game, it will not be rescheduled.
And while BHS trailed in the Shelton game 7-2, Spann remains confident in her team’s ability.
“I think we’re gonna surprise some people,” she said.
BHS travelled to North Kitsap yesterday, but results were unavailable at press time. The team will play host to Port Angeles at 4 p.m. Monday at Lions Field.