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Archive for the ‘Softball’ Category

   South Whidbey High School senior softball sensation Mackenzee Collins. (Photo courtesy Collins)

“Softball has always been my escape.”

Mackenzee Collins is a standout on the diamond, a flame-throwing hurler, a coach’s daughter driven both by those who believed in her and those who did not, a high-flying Falcon on her way to big things off-Island one day.

The South Whidbey High School senior, who also plays basketball, hails from an athletic family which includes older brother Parker and dad Tim.

Her big brother was a rampaging force of nature as a football and basketball star, a role model as she developed her own impressive skill-set, while her late father shaped her life in a million little ways, starting with being her pitching guru, and going well beyond.

“There are a few people who have made me the player and person I am today,” Collins said. “Parker, growing up, he played a lot of sports, but basketball was his passion.

“Watching how dedicated he was and still is, how selfless of a player he is, and how incredibly hard Parker works, is amazing, and he inspires me to be the best athlete I can be.”

Their father, a noted pitching coach, had a sterling reputation in the local sports community, and his unexpected passing in 2015 affected players, fans and fellow coaches at all three Whidbey Island high schools.

“He always pushed me to be the very best player and teammate I could,” Collins said. “When I was feeling tired or lazy, it was my dad who made me go pitch to him (and thankfully he did).

“Even when it was 24 degrees out one winter years ago, I still remember going under the covered area at the elementary school and pitching with him,” she added. “He was, and always will be, my biggest fan and my biggest inspiration. I play for him.”

As positive as her time with her father was, on the field and off, there’s another coach, one with a different outlook, who drives Collins through the toughest practice, who helps her reach back and find one more laser pitch to escape a bases-loaded jam.

“As crazy as this may be, I will never forget one other person who had a huge impact on me as a player,” she said. “The coach of my first select softball team when I was only nine years old.

“I pitched one inning the entire season, simply because he didn’t believe in me, and didn’t hide it,” Collins added. “I may have only been nine years old at the time, but somewhere on that team it lit a fire in me to prove him wrong, a fire that’s still there today.”

Away from the field, she’s a member of the National Honor Society, someone who “loves reading and writing, so naturally my favorite class is English,” a strong student who wants to follow both of her parents into the teaching profession.

“Other than sports, I love to spend time with my friends, out in the sun on the beach, reading a good book, or blasting my country music,” Collins said.

But the softball diamond is where she makes her name, where she wants to carve a path which will lead to “playing collegiate softball at a competitive school.”

“It’s always been my dream,” Collins said. “And I am working very hard to make it happen, so I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”

While she enjoys basketball, spring is her time.

“Softball is easily my favorite,” Collins said. “I grew up around a lot of sports, but ever since I started playing softball when I was eight I just fell in love with the game. It’s fast paced at a high level, and I love the competition.”

She has a ferocious bat and a slick glove, but it’s her propensity for eye-popping strikeouts which catch most people’s eye.

The Cascade Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Collins, with her killer mind-set and big-game work in the pitcher’s circle, carried the Falcons to the state tourney as a junior.

“One of my strengths as a pitcher is the movement I put on my pitches,” she said. “Over the past two years, I’ve worked a lot on my screwball, curve-ball, and rise-ball in order to really make them jump.

“Of course, movement and location is something a pitcher can absolutely always improve upon, so that is my focus this coming off-season,” Collins added. “Another strength of mine is my composure on the mound.

“My motto has always been that whether my team is winning by 10 or losing by 10, I stay the same.”

While the spotlight often rests on her, thanks to playing a key position and putting up impressive stats, Collins is quick to spread the love to her teammates.

“I enjoy sports in general because they give young people a chance to be a part of a team, represent their community, compete, and have fun, all of which is incredibly valuable,” she said. “Softball, in particular, has always been my escape. I knew it was something that I could do that could take my mind off of anything.

“As I mentioned, it’s very competitive, and I love the pressure put on me as a pitcher,” Collins added. “I love knowing that my teammates are counting on me, and I work very hard to not let them down.”

While Coupeville fans might logically daydream what it would be like to have her wearing a Wolf uniform, forming a potent pitching combo with fellow CHS ace Katrina McGranahan, Collins is content with life on the South end.

“In many ways, Coupeville and South Whidbey are very similar,” she said. “I love how close-knit our school is. As much as I want to branch out and meet new people, I love walking down the hallways and being able to recognize pretty much everyone.

“Our community is filled with kind, helpful, and incredibly caring people, and all of South Whidbey is beautiful. In fact, our whole Island is; we’re pretty lucky!,” Collins added. “South Whidbey is home, and it always will be.”

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   Abby (Clinkscales) Meyers brings a positive attitude and hard work to all her sports. (Photo courtesy Pat Meyers)

She’s working hard for the future, smiling all the way.

Abby (Clinkscales) Meyers has made several appearances in the CHS weight room this summer, taking part in the school’s SST training program.

Working alongside older sister Heidi, Abby, who will be an 8th grader at CMS in the fall, is preparing for multiple sports.

After playing middle school volleyball and little league softball during her first year in Coupeville, Meyers plans to branch out and add basketball in year two.

While she enjoys all of her sports, diamond life is the life for her.

“My favorite sport is softball because I really enjoy the game,” Meyers said. “I had some great coaches in Mike Peters and Lark Gustafson this year that helped me improve a lot.”

Playing team sports gives her a chance to interact with new friends, something she embraces.

“I enjoy the energy you get from your teammates and learning new things every year,” Meyers said. “My strengths are cheering on my teammates, being supportive and helping whenever I can.”

Like most young athletes, she is discovering new strengths every day, and always wants to remain open to all the possibilities out there.

“What I’d like to work on is stepping out of my comfort zone,” Meyers said. “To try new positions as suggested by my coaches.

“My high school sports career goals would be to keep growing as a player and helping my teammates.”

Away from the playing field, she excels in her art and math classes and enjoys “drawing, reading and caring for animals,” with an eye on a possible career as a small animal vet.

Whether she’s swinging a softball bat or an art brush, Meyers has a strong support crew, something which means a lot to her.

“Many people have helped me become the person I am today,” she said.

“My Aunt Pat giving me my daily guidance, my coaches Lark and Mike for their encouragement, and my sisters Heidi and Lilly for always being there through it all.”

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   Action was intense all week at the Minors softball district tourney. (John Fisken photo)

If it’s the final game of the season, might as well make it the craziest one, too.

The Central Whidbey Little League All-Star Minors softball squad bowed out of the District 11 tourney Thursday, falling to Sedro-Woolley in the championship round.

The 23-12 loss eliminated CW two wins shy of advancing to state.

But the score doesn’t tell half the story.

In a wild one, Sedro went up 11-0, gave back 10 runs in one half of an inning, then responded with 12 of their own the next time at bat, partially thanks to a missed call by the ump.

The tone of the game was set early, as Central missed a chance to take the early lead.

Trailing just 1-0 heading into the bottom of the first, the Whidbey squad got its first two runners, Mia Farris and Taylor Brotemarkle, on base thanks to walks.

Things took a tragic turn however, as speed demon Farris severely twisted her ankle leading off of third, forcing coach/dad Fred Farris to be cautious on sending his runners.

“We were set up for a lead,” he said. “Under normal circumstances both would have stolen home, considering all the passed balls that followed.

Mia really sets the tone for us with her aggressive base running. She was hobbled throughout the game,” Farris added. “Would have been nice to have those two runs and the lead after one.”

Sedro tacked on three in the second, then broke the game open with five runs in the top of the third and two more in the fourth, making things look like a blowout.

Until the game took a wild swerve.

Leading off the bottom of the fourth, Madison McMillan ripped a single, Central’s first hit of the game, and it seemed to buckle Sedro’s resolve.

Or at least its ability to find the strike zone.

10 of the next 11 Whidbey hitters walked, and by the time Sedro had finally stopped the bleeding with an inning-ending strikeout, a romp had become a one-run thriller.

But then the game veered right back.

Four runs in the top of the fifth stretched the lead back to 15-10, but Central got the third out and was still close.

Except, the ump whiffed on the call which would have been the third out, and, given new life in the inning, Sedro tacked on eight more runs.

This time, a tired Central squad — many of its players pulled double duty, attending Girl Scout camp at Fort Casey, then heading to Anacortes three straight nights for playoff games — had no answer.

Even in defeat, Fred Farris had much to be grateful about.

“Tough loss, but Sedro is a good team. Our girls showed a lot of heart!,” he said. “Allison Nastali pitched great and Madison McMillan had a great game, both at the plate and on defense.

“It was a great experience for this young team,” Farris added. “I think seeing Sedro pose with the banner and celebrate, makes them want to be there next year.”

Central’s playoff roster was comprised of Taylor Auld, Brionna Blouin, Brotemarkle, Teagan Calkins, Farris, Mimi Forde, Jada Heaton, Katie Marti, Chloe Marzocca, McMillan, Nastali, Molly Nattress and Mayleen Weatherford.

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   With a win Wednesday, Central Whidbey advances to the championship round of the District 11 tourney. (John Fisken photo)

Pressure? What pressure?

With it season on the line, the Central Whidbey Little League All-Star Minors softball squad fired up the offense Wednesday and thumped North Whidbey 23-7 in a loser-out playoff game.

CWLL advances to the championship of the District 11 tourney, where it will seek revenge against Sedro-Woolley, a team it lost to Tuesday night.

Win twice — Thursday and Friday, with both games played in Anacortes —  and Central is bound for the state championships.

Sedro, 2-0 at districts, needs just one win to claim the crown.

If Central Whidbey takes advantage of its offensive opportunities like it did against North Whidbey, anything is possible.

Pouring in runs in every inning, the Coupeville sluggers (and their trio of South Whidbey mercenaries) built a 14-1 lead after the first inning and a half and never looked back.

After opening with five in the first and nine in the second, CW settled for two in the third, then closed with fury, plating seven in the fourth and final inning.

Central benefited from a keen eye at the plate, picking up a staggering amount of walks.

The few times the Whidbey hitters did get a pitch somewhere in the vicinity of the plate, they seized the moment, drilling hits left and right.

Mia Farris, Allison Nastali, Chloe Marzocca, Taylor Auld, Mimi Forde and Brionna Blouin all collected base-knocks.

With runs flying across the plate, Auld, Farris, Nastali and Marzocca stepped on home three times apiece, with Blouin, Mayleen Weatherford and Madison McMillan scoring twice.

Coupeville hurlers Blouin and Nastali were a deadly duo in the pitcher’s circle, with Nastali shutting North Whidbey down completely over the final 2 and 2/3 innings.

Behind them their teammates stepped up in the spotlight.

“The girls played stellar defense throughout,” said CW coach Fred Farris. “Teagan (Calkins) was a vacuum behind the plate.”

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   Allison Nastali, buckling hitters knees with wicked fastballs. (John Fisken photos)

“I dare you to try and steal … yeah, didn’t think so.”

The gun show arrives in town.

Softball guru Christi Messner (and associate) survey the on-field action.

“You can run, but I can gun! Get ready to be out in three, two, one…”

“Forget it, sister! I was safe by a mile!!”

They’ll be aiming for a quick bounce-back.

After falling 18-8 Tuesday to Sedro-Woolley at the district tourney, the Central Whidbey Little League All-Star Minors softball squad is still very much alive.

Now Coupeville’s sluggers need to take out Island rival North Whidbey Wednesday when both teams return to Anacortes for a loser-out game.

The winner of that game advances to the championship and a rematch with Sedro, which sits at 2-0 after beating both local teams.

To win the District 11 title, and punch a ticket to state, the winner of the Whidbey rumble will have to knock off Sedro twice.

Tuesday’s game was close for an inning, as Central Whidbey scored two in the bottom of the first to snag a 2-1 lead.

Then the floor fell out from beneath its feet for a bit, as Sedro broke through for 10 runs in the top of the second.

Central Whidbey responded with two in the second, three in the fourth and a final run in the fifth, but couldn’t fully recover.

“The big stage ruffled their feathers a bit once things started to get away from them defensively,” said Central coach Fred Farris. “They fought back hard to get back in the game.”

Mia Farris and Taylor Brotemarkle led Coupeville, rapping singles, scoring twice and forming a potent defensive combo at second and short.

Allison Nastali and Taylor Auld also stepped on home twice, with Nastali “pitching a great game.”

The All-Star roster is comprised of Auld, Brionna Blouin, Brotemarkle, Teagan Calkins, Farris, Mimi Forde, Jada Heaton, Katie Marti, Chloe Marzocca, Madison McMillan, Nastali, Molly Nattress and Mayleen Weatherford.

To see more photos from this game (purchases fund college scholarships for CHS student/athletes) pop over to:

http://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/2017-CWLL/20170627-CWLL-810-SB-AllStars-vs-SedroWoolley/

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