Sequim fastpitch banks on youth movement

To kick off the 2009 season, coach Mel Hendrickson scheduled his Sequim fastpitch crew to play at the Kentwood Classic, a preseason tourney featuring some of the best teams in the state.

Though the games got canceled thanks to poor weather, the intention is clear: the seventh-year coach wants to see what happens when he throws his Wolves to the wolves.

Sequim saw five starting seniors from last season's team graduate and is filling the roster with some young and untested players.

Hendrickson doesn't seem worried, however, as he watched a preseason practice.

"We're going to be pretty good - we've got good bats," he said. "They've got real good attitudes (and) they're playing hard."

Among those good bats are catcher Maddy Zbaraschuk and infielder Lea Hopson.

Zbaraschuk led the Wolves with a .501 batting average and 15 RBIs in 2008, hitting four home runs and a triple at the plate. Hopson had one triple and two home runs to go with her five RBIs and .326 batting average.

The Wolves also are looking to Chelsie Winfield, the slick-fielding second baseman, and outfielder Kathryn Roeber, who hit .260 last season.

With two-year starter Carly Swingle graduated and pitching for nearby Peninsula College, pitching duties fall to a trio of pitchers with varying styles. Hendrickson looks to Winfield, freshman Demiree Briones and his daughter Lauren to stymie opposing batters.

The idea, he said, is to give opponents up to three different looks during a game.

Other key newcomers include Kenzie Winfield who plays a couple of infield spots, senior outfielder Katie Gallahuer and, in particular, Cindy Miller, a speedy sophomore who can play both middle infield and outfield positions. Along with Hopson, Miller figures to give the Wolves a strong speed threat, Hendrickson said.

The Wolves posted a 10-8 mark last season but fell in the West Central District opener, getting shocked by Steilacoom, 1-0.

This year it may be even tougher to districts. North Mason, the Olympic League defending champ, remains the Olympic League 2A favorite with Klahowya posing a threat thanks to pitcher Kazandra Holliday. On the 3A side, newcomer North Kitsap looks strong as does the Olympic Trojan team from Silverdale.

The Wolves have to go to battle without a host of strong seniors, including all-league first team outfielder Yolanda Chinn (now playing at NWAACC No. 1-ranked Lower Columbia), Swingle, an all-league second team pitcher, and leadoff sparkplug Paige Seamands.

The Wolves last qualified for state in 2007, when they went 16-10 and took third place.

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