Editor’s note: After a handful of practices, Sequim High School’s spring sports seasons were cancelled before any officials games were played following statewide shutdown of schools and all extra-curricular activities in April. These previews were written just prior to those seasons were slated to begin. — MD
Spring sports preview: Fastpitch
Head coach: Mike McFarlen (sixth year)
2019 finish: 15-8 (9-3, tied for second in Olympic League); 3-1 at districts, 0-2 at 2A state tourney
Top returning players: Leeann Raney (so.), Jayla Julmist (jr.), Christy Grubb (so.), Kailyn Lopez (jr.), Kiana Robideau (so.), Kylynn Stringer (sr.), Lilia Fili (so.), Greta Christiansen (jr.), Vicki Lelle (sr.)
Newcomers: Hannah Bates (fr.), Amelia Pozernick (fr.), Addie Smith (so.), Lauren Sundin (so.), Laney Vig (fr.)
Top competition: North Kitsap, Port Angeles, Olympic
Despite losing a half-dozen players from the Wolves’ 2019 roster, Sequim fastpitch coach Mike McFarlen is optimistic about the 2020 campaign.
“I think we’ll be real competitive,” said McFarlen, who returns to lead the Wolves after a three-year stint coaching youth teams.
“We’ve got lots of experience. We’ll be alright.”
Then-freshman Leeann Raney shared mound responsibilities with Isabelle Dennis last season and the duo helped the Wolves to a state 2A tourney berth and 15-8 overall record.
With Dennis, a two-time all-Olympic League infielder now graduated,” Raney looks to take over as the team’s ace. She racked up a 10-2 record through districts last season.
Three of the Wolves’ all-league second team players, all sophomores, are back in the lineup: outfielder Lili Fili, first baseman Kiana Robideau and infielder Christy Grubb.
Anchoring the lineup is returning slugger Jayla Julmist, along with returning veterans Kailyn Lopez and Kylynn Stringer.
The Wolves have added some youngsters to the roster, including a pair — shortstop Hannah Bates and second baseman Addie Smith — that look to shore up the middle infield.
“We don’t really have any weak spots,” McFarlen said.
Sequim High’s fastpitch saw a solid turnout, he said, with 32 vying for varsity and JV spots.
The Wolves were scheduled to open at Bainbridge on March 16 and Forks on March 17. After hosting North Mason on March 25, the Wolves are at Bremerton on March 27, CHimacum on April 8 and Olympic on April 10. In the season’s first 29 days, Sequim plays one home game.
“We’ll be road-tested in the beginning,” McFarlen said.
North Kitsap won the 2019 Olympic League title with 10-2 record, with Sequim and Port Angeles tying for second with 9-3 marks. Olympic finished fourth at 7-5.
McFarlen returns to lead Wolves
After a three-year absence, Mike McFarlen is back in the dugout as head coach of Sequim High’s fastpitch squad.
McFarlen led Sequim to five consecutive state 2A tournament appearances in all five of his seasons from 2012-2016 before stepping away to coach a select team as well as a Little League junior squad that qualified for regionals.
“I wanted to go back to (youth league), bring some of these kids up,” McFarlen said.
His winning percentage (.767) is tops among all fastpitch coaches (with at least two seasons coached) since the school transitioned from slowpitch in the 1990s, and his 99 total wins are second only to Mel Hendrickson’s 125.
McFarlen, was an assistant for the Wolves’ 2011 state 2A championship team, led the Wolves to a 61-10 Olympic League record and twice earn a place at state: fourth in 2012 and seventh (tied) in 2016.
Under Lusk (2017-2019), the Wolves went 39-34 overall — 23-13 in Olympic league play — and racked up an 8-4 mark at districts. Sequim qualified for the state tourney in two of his three seasons.