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Fastpitch: Seniors going out with a bang
As the Irrigation Festival’s grand parade marches closer, the hit parade has been going full force with the Wolves fastpitch team.
Over the four-game spread last week, all victories, Sequim (12-0, 13-0) outpaced its opponents 63-6 and out-hit them 61 to 13.
The biggest breakout of the four games was senior night on April 26 when the Wolves crushed the visiting Olympic Trojans at home 28-2.
Every Wolves player got a hit, including the four seniors: Rylleigh Zbaraschuk with two doubles, six runners batted in and three runs; Hannah Grubb with four hits, two RBIs and three runs; Bailey Rhodefer with four hits, two RBIs and four runs; and Columbia Haupt with three hits, one RBI and three runs.
These four were integral to the 2011 2A State championship team.
While it may be superstitious to mention championship possibilities prior to securing the Olympic League title, the girls have put in the hours to become the players they are today.
Dean Rhodefer, Bailey’s dad, said his daughter and the girls earned all of their wins and accolades.
“Not every kid goes out in the dark to hit off a tee,” he said.
But that’s what Bailey wanted.
“When I was younger, I wanted to be the best. I asked to do that,” she said. “Now I want my team to be the best.”
The seniors all started baseball as little girls, but it took that extra dedication, such as joining travel teams where the girls honed their skills through the years.
“They don’t just get there off talent. They earn everything they get out here,” Dean Rhodefer said.
Bailey Rhodefer said the game has taught her a lot about life. She and the others agreed that includes dedication, teamwork and a strong work ethic.
With plenty of distractions for teenagers today, Zbaraschuk said her love of softball kept her playing.
Returning to state is a goal everyone has in mind, Zbaraschuk said.
“Personally, I want it more this year,” she said.
In 2011, the team was led by powerhouse seniors Lea Hopson, Cindy Miller and Maddy Zbaraschuk, along with major contributions from seven players still on the team. Rhodefer said the personalities of this year’s team are similar. But the girls still want another championship.
“If we do it, it’s our own,” Grubb said.
Haupt said she thinks this year’s team interacts better and it was one of her goals to help everyone be in sync even more and it seems to be working.
Head coach Mike McFarlen said the team makes it fun to be their coach.
“There’s no drama,” he said. “They just go out and play the game.”
Rhodefer finds the same thing with the drama-free Wolves. “We’re like a family,” she said.
Staying undefeated has come from the whole lineup, seniors said.
“The team this year has seen everyone step up,” Zbaraschuk said.
Eleven players return from the fourth-place state team last year, including a nearly flawless pitching team anchored by Makayla Bentz and the batting core powered by cleanup hitter Alexas Besand, MaryLu Clift and Shelby Lott.
“We want to keep it going for the younger members of the team,” Rhodefer said.
This week’s away games help cement the team’s chances for the Olympic League title and positioning in the playoffs race.
McFarlen said they don’t take anyone lightly, mentioning early games against Kingston and Port Angeles where the Wolves had to rally to win.
The seniors seem to be in line with their personal goals they set before the season.
Both Grubb and Haupt wanted to be more consistent hitters, which they’ve become. Using last week’s games as a litmus test, Grubb batted .500, 9-18 including a home run and a double, and Haupt hit .643, 9-14 with three doubles.
Zbaraschuk, a standout hitter already, said she’s wanted to throw out four or five people from centerfield to Rhodefer. She’s yet to do it, but she’s prevented a few baserunners from advancing.
Rhodefer, like Haupt, wanted to see team chemistry flow even more.
“We just leave it all on the field,” she said.
All four are college-bound in some capacity.
Zbaraschuk plans to play softball for the University of Washington, a plan set at the beginning of her junior year. Haupt is heading to Central Washington University, but not for sports. Grubb is set for Simpson University in Redding, Calif., but she’s not going to play softball her freshman year. She’s not ruling it out for her sophomore year, though. Rhodefer is considering Pacific Lutheran University.