Following last year’s third-place finish at the 3A state softball tournament, the Lake Washington High girls hung around near the right-field line and embraced in a group hug. It took a while for them to let go.
While the Kangs didn’t want the season to end, they’re now at the advent of a new campaign and the lineup is packed with 11 returners.
As coach Traci Tawney watched her players swing away in batting practice on a recent Tuesday afternoon, she was enjoying hearing the ball bang off the Kangs’ bats.
When senior utility player Anastasia Kotsakis got the job done, Tawney smiled and said, “First pitch, crushed it. I was like, ‘OK, hey, good to see it.’”
Tawney didn’t want to miss a player when she listed her returners, since they all chipped in to last season’s success: seniors Abigail Mills, Lindsay Allan, Hailey Menssen and Kotsakis; juniors Jane Wilson, Emma Rosendal, Jamie Pippin and Olivia Rudolph; and sophomores Hayley Brown, Amy Chen and Antonia Norman.
But the lineup won’t end with those three classes.
“I think we’ll have some new girls in the mix. Some good talent came in with some of these freshmen,” said Tawney, noting that they’ll get a taste of junior varsity and varsity experience.
“Being able to bond with everybody, even though we will be varsity/JV, we’re all practicing together right now. I think that’s how we develop a program versus two separate teams.”
As for the pitching-catching duo of Wilson and Mills, there’s some exciting times ahead, Tawney noted.
Wilson is armed with a stellar drop ball, and mixes things up with a curveball and screwball and change up.
“With her ability to hit the four areas of the zone and mix speeds, that’s gonna be a challenge for a lot of teams,” said Tawney, adding that Wilson can hit the ball a ton, too. To prove that point, Wilson nailed a home run in a jamboree game against Bothell on March 9.
Mills is a solid catcher who has grown into a leader on and off the field, getting players to bond. Tawney said one of Mills’ roles will be “staying lighthearted and keeping everybody pulled together.”
Head coach: Traci Tawney
Last year: 11-1 league, 17-5 overall, third place at state, second in 3A KingCo tournament
Key returners: Jane Wilson, junior, P; Abigail Mills, senior, C; Lindsay Allan, senior OF