Marissa Ewald smiles when she says that all Lake Washington High’s softball players have their hearts in the game.
The Kangs can smash the ball hard — either clearing the yard or putting the ball in the right spots to move runners around the bases — and they’re willing to dive for balls on defense.
Ewald, a senior captain and first baseman, thinks it’s cool that all the players working together can achieve success on the diamond. At press time, the Kangs were tied with Redmond atop the 3A KingCo standings with 4-0 records.
For another state appearance to land on the squad’s docket, Ewald said, “It’s gonna take some fight. I think that if we just keep hitting, just keep communicating, just having some fun, we’ll be good for state.”
Ewald has homered once this year in the team’s lone 3-1 nonleague loss to 4A KingCo’s Woodinville, and notched four hits and four RBIs in a 6-1 win over Mercer Island. Senior pitcher/first baseman Tori Bivens has been huge with her bat, slamming four homers — including two grand slams — and registering copious hits and RBIs. Also joining the hit parade are senior Olivia Smallman, junior Hailey Menssen, sophomore Anna Robinson, sophomore Emma Rosendal and freshman Amy Chen.
In 3A KingCo games, LW has outscored its opponents, 71-4.
Bivens, who earned a scholarship to play ball at Boise State University next year, said the energy and positivity is at a premium when the Kangs take the field. They laugh, they’re serious and they always deliver maximum effort.
“We know how to work hard and I think that’s very valuable on a high school team and I think that will serve us well,” said Bivens, one of the team’s three captains.
Captain and second baseman Robinson explored the team’s keys to success: “I think (it’s) the integrity we have as a team. We put in the extra work that’s necessary to get us where we need to be, whether it be doing extra hits outside or getting reps everywhere we can.”
Robinson, who has a homer alongside many hits and RBIs, said she gives the team a boost by being loud, supportive and positive during games.
Fifth-year head coach Tracie Tawney — whose team won the 2A state title in 2014 and has made the 3A state tourney the last two years — said other key contributors are sophomore pitcher Jane Wilson, junior outfielder Lindsay Allan and junior catcher Abigail Mills.
Wilson shares the mound with Bivens and both hurlers have supplied strong performances this season. Tawney said that the girls’ different pitching styles and speeds complement each other.
“It’s nice to be able to play with them and switch them back and forth this season,” the coach said, noting that Bivens throws harder with a screw ball, riser and changeup while Wilson doesn’t throw as hard as her teammate, but can still outdo batters with a drop ball, curveball and changeup.
Bivens has been unleashing pitches for LW for the last four years and her eyes light up when she discusses her Kang experiences.
“I’ve learned that nothing is easy,” she began. “Freshman year we went all the way, we won all four games and won the state championship. We’ve also been through losses, losing the first game at state, so I know what it’s like on both ends of the spectrum. I know it’s just not easy — you have to work really hard and you have to never give up, so I’m hoping that we can pull through this season and just keep winning and do our best.”
Tawney said the girls should have fun together and learn and respect the game. Ewald and Robinson added that the girls all have cool personalities and it’s a bonus to get to know everyone outside of the classroom.
“You’re probably not gonna work with a group of girls as hard as you work with your teammates — whether it’s basketball or a leadership club at school or any other sports team,” Tawney said. “You get to be with these girls upwards of four years, so might as well have a good time together.”