Softball team looks to fill gaps in 1998
The Tahoe-Truckee High School softball team has been to state the past four years and head coach Jon Western doesn’t expect any less from his talented 1998 team.
Despite the loss of six seniors and the return of only three starters from 1997, Western’s team; consisting of six seniors, five juniors and a sophomore, has already shown talent on the field normally reserved for a team which has played an entire season.
In a tournament last week at Reno, the team split 3-3, losing the three games by a combined total of four runs.
“We not only made routine plays,” said Western, “but we made several spectacular plays, especially the outfielders. These were plays we wouldn’t expect late in the season, much less this early when we haven’t had much of a chance to see fly balls and haven’t practiced on a field.”
The two-run loss came against Hug, a 4A team which finished second in state last year.
Two of the returning starters are team captains and seniors: Sarah Jones who has been playing third base and Monica Gadda, who has played short stop and second base.
Western said Jones and Gadda will also put in some time on the pitching mound.
Also returning from 1997 is junior Lindsey Back, at catcher.
“All three of them are potential all-league players,” Western said.
A starting pitcher is Erin Tomasello, who steps into some big shoes left in the wake of standout Brooke Maes’ graduation.
“You just can’t replace her,” Western said of Maes.
Still, Tomasello has begun to establish her own identity on the team.
“Erin came in never having pitched a varsity game. She had done some JV pitching, but was untested in varsity. That was our biggest question mark going into it, but she did an outstanding job.”
In the outfield, senior Kristen Pilner will play left field, senior Rita Mooring will play center field and sophomore Becca Shook will be in right field.
Western called Shook, who led the junior varsity girls’ basketball team to a league championship this year, “an outstanding athlete.”
At second base, Grace Kennelly will step in. Western said Kennelly was a standout on last year’s junior varsity softball team.
Currently two girls have been trading off at first base; Krissy Silva and Carrie Teague.
Jana Bergen and Shannon Holland, both slated for various infield positions, round out the roster.
Western has wasted no time in setting the objectives for this year’s team.
“Our goal at the beginning of each season is to qualify for the state tournament,” said Western. “After what we saw last weekend, there’s no reason why we can’t compete for that again this year even with the loss of six seniors.”
Tough opponents on the 1998 schedule include Spring Creek and Fernley, both of which went to state last year.
Truckee also went to state for the fourth year in a row, but was knocked out by Boulder City in the second game of playoffs.
Western said North Tahoe has the same problem as TTHS, which is the lack of a true practice field. Lately, the girls have practiced inside the gym in a make-shift batting cage and in the parking lot on nicer days.
Team strengths include defense, which Western said has “come together out of the blue.” Also, the girls are hitting the ball well, getting solid contact with the ball.
Another asset is the consistency of Tomasello’s pitching, Western said.
“She doesn’t have a blazing fast ball, but that’s good, because it will keep the defense on its toes.”
Areas of concern include team speed. Western said the team has been working on base running.
Another area Western is addressing is backup pitching, or the lack thereof.
“I’m working with Monica (Gadda) and Sarah (Jones) on that,” he said.
The next game is today at Dayton, starting with a junior varsity game at 2 p.m. and the varsity squad at 4 p.m.
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