Titans Try to Defend State Title Against Tough Central 2B League Competition
By Matt Baide
It was another Central 2B League state championship matchup last season, as Pe Ell-Willapa defeated Napavine 10-1 to win the title and lift the gold glove trophy.
With the amount of talent returning for not only Napavine and Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, but across the Central 2B League, it wouldn’t be a shock if two District 4 teams ended up playing for a state title once again — which would mark the fifth straight year two C2BL teams faced off for the gold glove.
The Titans are expected to make another run at the title. PWV lost a few key players, including slugging pitcher Dakota Brooks (now playing at Centralia College) and Abby Hodel, but the Titans bring back a lot of experience from the state championship team, including sophomores Britney Patrick, Katelyn McGough and Katie Adkins, and juniors Kamryn Adkins and Grace Hodel.
“From my perspective, I like our team a lot. I think they could do it again. We’ve got a lot of good kids back,” PWV coach Ken Olson said. “Yes, Dakota is gone, Railey (Smith) and Abby are gone. We added some good kids, we’re going to have two solid throwers in the two Adkins girls. … It’s tough to repeat and all that stuff. We finally talked about it; it’s a long ways off. There’s good talent here in our league.”
PWV will have senior Sidney Pollard — who has signed to play softball at Montana State University in the fall — leading a young core that won the league, district and state titles last year.
Also hoping to be back in the state championship game is Napavine. The Tigers finished fourth in the C2BL last season, but made a run to the district and state championship games, only to lose to PWV in both games.
“Honestly, we’ve got to get healthy first. We have some kids that are out still. We’ve got a long ways to go before where were anywhere near last year,” Napavine coach Chad Williams said. “We’ve got to get some practices in. Our goal is to continue to improve week by week, as compared to where we ended. We’ve got to start somewhere.”
Napavine returns seniors Abbi Music, Maddie Thompson and Ada Williams to lead a team that gained a lot of experience last year, with Music and Williams handling the pitching duties. With other returners including Solana Sanchez, Courtney Oster, Kaiya Larson and Taylor Denault, the Tigers hope to capture the titles that eluded them last season.
“As long as we’re improving each and every week, they’re going to be happy with the results,” Williams said. “We want to make it to state and make a little noise. That would be a big goal.”
There will be plenty of teams in the Central 2B League that will be out to dethrone PWV and Napavine.
The Adna Pirates have a new coach in Bruce Pocklington after losing back to back games at state last year and failing to place for the first time since 2014.
The Pirates return senior pitcher Jenikka Poppe and infielder Darian Humphrey, along with juniors Emily Sliva and Ruby Bower, after finishing third in the C2BL last year.
Morton-White Pass is a team to watch out for in the C2BL. The Timberwolves placed sixth in the league standings last season and came up just short in districts, falling to Adna for the final spot into the state tournament.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re going to have to hit the ball to stay in game,” MWP coach Rob Hazen said. “We have two freshman pitchers and a new outfield. We’re going to have to hit the ball and make plays for our pitchers.”
Hazen noted juniors Taylor Nilius, Taylor Hazen, Sydney Brooks and Hannah Smathers have emerged as leaders on the team. MWP will try to get back to the state tournament for the first time since 2015.
Another team on its way up is Onalaska. The Lady Loggers finished fifth in league last season but lost to Morton-White Pass in a loser-out game in the district tournament.
Senior Alicia Vint signed with Doane University to play next season and she will help lead an Onalaska squad with plenty of talent, including seniors Karson Morris and juniors Amy Henderson, Adalee Sabin, Haylie Howard, Olivia Miten and Ashley Pannkuk.
Toledo will try to move up in the C2BL standings after a seventh place finish last season. The Indians return some key players from last season including seniors Meeghan Peters, Emily Tyner and Shy-Anne Hill.
Also hoping to climb the standings this season is Winlock. The Cardinals finished 5-17 last year and eighth in the C2BL. The team graduated two seniors last season in Katlyn Dunlap and Hannah Randall and brings back no seniors this season.
Winlock does return some experienced players in juniors Madison Lofberg, Jenna Jones, Joanna Barragan, Cheleena Squibb and Lillian Gilman.
After not having a team last season, the Mossyrock Vikings are back in the Central 2B League softball picture. Mossyrock last qualified for the state tournament in 2011 as the VIkings finished fourth.
“I think we are in a rebuilding stage. Those young girls, they’ve all been playing together in youth ball,” Mossyrock coach Melanie Hadaller said. “Once we get going and get a few more years under our belt, we’re going to be a great team. I think it’s going to be a struggle at the beginning, but once they get some experience, they’re going to do a lot better.”
Mossyrock is a young team but does have senior Macie Rockwood on the team to help lead the Lady Vikings on the diamond.
Along with Toutle Lake and Kalama, the Central 2B League will be a tough schedule for teams once again and two will hope to end their season in Yakima competing for a state championship.
Pe Ell-Willapa Valley Titans
Coach: Ken Olson (fourth)
2017: 25-1 (state champs)
Returning Starters: Sid Pollard (Sr., SS), Kamryn Adkins (Jr., P), Britney Patrick (So., IF), Grace Hodel (Jr., C), Katie Adkins (So., P/IF), Katelyn McGough (So., IF/OF)
Coach: Chad Williams (third)
2017: 19-8 (second in state)
Returning Starters: Maddie Thompson (Sr., SS), Ada Williams (Jr., P), Abbi Music (Sr., P), Solana Sanchez (Sr., IF), Cortney Oster (Sr., C), Kaila Larson (Sr., OF), Taylor Denault (Sr., OF)
Coach: Ken Ulery (sixth)
2017: 11-12 (lost in districts)
Returning Starters: Alicia Vint (Sr., SS), Amy Henderson (Jr., P/IF), Adalee Sabin (Jr., OF), Ashley Pannkuk (Jr., IF/OF), Olivia Mitten (Jr., IF/OF), Karson Morris (Sr., OF), Haylie Howard (Jr., IF)
Coach: Chantel Nelson (second)
2017: 5-17 (lost in districts)
Returning Starters: Jenna Jones (Jr., P), Cheleena Squibb (Jr., C), Sabrena Barragan (So., IF), Karlie Jones (So., SS), Madison Lofberg (Jr., IF/OF)
Coach: Bruce Pocklington (first)
2017: 14-6 (lost in state)
Returning Starters: Ruby Bower (Jr., OF), Darian Humphrey (Sr., IF), Skye Snow (So., P/IF), Jenikka Poppe (Sr., P/IF), Tyas Pannette (So., IF/OF)
Coach: Ashlee Gieske (first)
2017: 11-14 (lost in districts)
Returning Starters: Kyleigh Holmes (Jr., P/IF), Brooke Beecroft (Jr., OF), Jessica Hull (So., P/IF), Aryanna Murphy (So., C), Andrea Jones (So., OF)
Morton-White Pass Timberwolves
Coach: Rob Hazen (second)
2017: 10-15 (lost in districts)
Returning Starters: Taylor Nilius (Jr., SS), Taylor Hazen (Jr., IF), Hannah Smathers (Jr., C)
1. Pe Ell-Willapa Valley
5. Morton-White Pass
6. Toutle Lake