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Archive for the ‘Softball’ Category

After four seasons of blasting dingers for Coupeville, Veronica Crownover (and her boomin’ bat) will play for the Washington State University softball team. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Good-bye, softball.

Veronica Crownover isn’t ready to retire just yet.

The 2019 Coupeville High School grad, who launched towering home-runs to all fields and made opposing pitchers cry sweet, sweet tears during her time as a prep softball slugger, has officially made the team at Washington State University.

Tryouts were this week, and the former Wolf first-baseman impressed with both her glove and bat. The Wazzu freshman is in the mix for a starting position, as well.

Washington State competes as an NCAA D-I school in 11 sports, and supplements those varsity programs with 27 club sports teams.

Softball, which has been active at WSU since 1996, is part of the club system, along with sports such as wrestling, ice hockey, bowling, cricket, rugby, and lacrosse.

The Cougar softball team is a member of the National Club Softball Association, which boasts 143 colleges.

Wazzu plays out of the Pacific – North division, which also includes club teams from the University of Oregon, Eastern Washington University, Boise State University, and Gonzaga University.

Games begin in October, and Crownover and her new teammates play in both the fall and spring.

The former Wolf will have a busy schedule, as she’s also pulling a double major, studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Sciences along with Zoology, while being on a pre-vet track.

While that makes for a lot of class time, mixed with life on the diamond, it’s something Crownover has handled before.

She graduated twice this spring, earning degrees from both CHS and Skagit Valley College.

Her softball roots go back to little league, when she and future high school teammates like Sarah Wright, who will play for Sewanee: The University of the South this year, tore up the diamond.

Once she hit high school, Crownover made an immediate impact, earning All-League honors as a freshman, then adding enough awards over the next three years to build her own shrine.

She was a nimble defensive player at first base, providing a soft mitt for her fellow infielders to aim for, while pulling in just about any throw which came within 10 feet of her.

But it was Crownover’s bat, “Thunder,” which made her reputation.

The sultan of swat carved up pitcher after pitcher, from future D1 hurlers like Klahowya’s Amber Bumbalough and South Whidbey’s Mackenzee Collins, to the best playoff rivals could throw her way.

She crashed a home run deep over a very tall left-field fence at Oak Harbor to stun Coupeville’s big-city rivals, hurt South Whidbey so badly, so often that the Falcons intentionally walked her multiple times in one game, and played her best in the spotlight.

Crownover and Wright, along with fellow senior Nicole Laxton, led the Wolves to the state tourney this spring, where they won for the first time since 2002.

That victory came against Deer Park, a juggernaut which had upended the defending state champs, and CHS also came within a play of knocking off Cle Elum at the big dance.

Playing three games in one day at the state tourney in Richland (the Wolves also tangled with eventual state champ Montesano), Crownover went out in style, swinging for the fences and freakin’ out rival pitchers.

Now, she gets to go out and do it all again, just in a different uniform.

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Jordyn Rogers, heaving the shot put as an 8th grader, was a three-sport athlete at Coupeville Middle School. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Rogers put in strong work at a summer volleyball camp at the University of Florida.

There’s another one on the way.

When Jordyn Rogers hits high school in September, she’ll be following in the footsteps of older siblings Chris and Ashleigh Battaglia, who have both been successful in multiple sports.

But the little sister is intent on making a name for herself, and recently spent a chunk of her summer getting ready for her debut as a freshman volleyball player.

Rogers took part in a summer spiker camp at the University of Florida, a school she’d like to attend once she hits college age.

While there, the incoming Wolf freshman was selected as a camper of the day while fine-tuning her volleyball skill set.

A three-sport athlete at CMS, where she played basketball and competed in track and field to go with volleyball, Rogers plans to shake things up a bit at the high school level.

She currently plans to drop basketball, and switch out track and field for softball when spring rolls around.

The one thing staying the same is volleyball, which she has played at both the school and club level.

“Volleyball is my favorite sport because it makes me happy and it’s fun learning the different things about it,” Rogers said.

“I would like to focus mainly on volleyball and try my best to be a part of every function they have, but stay active throughout the school year.”

Away from the court, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, while, in the classroom, she’s fascinated with what’s happening in the atmosphere.

“I love to learn about weather and would like to have a future in that field,” Rogers said.

While her brother and sister have set a positive example for her, on and off the playing field, her parents, Brian and Amanda Rogers, have played a crucial role in her life.

“My parents have always believed in me,” Jordyn said. “And when I wanted a bigger challenge, they would help with that.”

Like all young volleyball players, she’s working hard on every aspect of her game, from serves to sets to spikes.

But she’s also focusing on the smaller, but sometimes even more important skills, such as meshing well with her teammates. Having a well-rounded game should translate to future success.

“Being an athlete challenges me to always do my best and helps me to be more of a team player,” Rogers said. “I think my strengths are sportsmanship and dedication.

“I would like to work on keeping my head up and always striving to be a better team player.”

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Sarah Wright, softball terminator. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Get you someone who looks at you the way Wright looks at confetti.

The Wright Express comes in hot.

“You’re running … ON ME???? Oh, you foolish child!”

A prairie legend forever.

Sarah Wright is a tornado of fun.

She blows through, rips up the joint, throws the furniture up on the roof, but leaves everyone smiling afterwards.

As I have covered her exploits through the years, from youth sports, to middle school, and then on through four fast n’ furious years of high school, she was as entertaining an athlete as any I’ve ever seen.

Talented? Without a doubt.

But with Sarah, it was always about how much fun she was having out there, whether it be a pressure-packed game at the state tournament, or a random practice on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of the season.

She worked her tail off, fought for success, screamed her lungs out, and got every last scrap of enjoyment she could from her sports.

Volleyball to soccer, basketball to her truest love of them all, softball, Wright never lost the joy little league athletes have, even when she was finally old enough to work as their hitting coach.

Whether she was threatening to eat worms while watching her JV teammates play, laughing until she could barely stand, or feeding seagulls in the parking lot in between state playoff games, running and giggling as the birds pecked at her sandwich, Sarah was, and is, pure giddy joy.

Not that she couldn’t be deadly serious, mind you.

Wright sacrificed her body, time and again, and when it was time to compete, she wanted to win as badly as she wanted to enjoy life in her down time.

As a softball catcher, she bore the brunt of long hours hunched down in the dirt.

Her hands stinging from knocking down wayward balls, her body sore from standing tall and taking the brunt of the explosion when rival players were dumb enough to try and knock her down during plays at the plate.

During her travel ball tournaments, or during Coupeville’s playoff runs, you would see Sarah walk away, looking like a (sometimes very tired) warrior.

Eye black on, smeared by sweat and dirt, her uniform streaked in dust, her mitt in one hand, her mask in the other, she resembled a gladiator coming back from the pits and you knew she left a trail of bodies behind her.

And then, two steps later, she’d suddenly start laughing, and by the time she reached the dugout she was singing in a voice which carried across the field.

I watched Sarah win big games during her career, and take some tough losses, but, in the end, whether her heart was soaring or breaking, she was happy to be in that uniform, to have that mitt and mask, to just play.

She was a solid volleyball player, a take-charge soccer goalie, a pounder in the paint on the basketball court, but she was at home on the softball diamond.

She loved it, and it loved her back.

Knowing Sarah gets to play college softball, even if it will be far away from Coupeville, makes me happy.

It means she gets to keep cracking tape-measure home runs.

Or bashing doubles that she turns into triples, legs pounding as she comes crashing into third-base in a giant cloud of dust, followed by her looking up at CHS coach Kevin McGranahan with a huge grin and saying “I told you I’d make it … Keeeeevvvvviiiiinnn.”

She’ll be zinging throws from behind the plate, sprawled out, firing off the wrong leg and, somehow, still nailing straying runners.

“Another notch on the ol’ gun belt there, Kevin, my boy!”

Sarah stepped onto the CHS softball field and was a starter at the hardest position from day one of her freshman season.

The only thing which kept her waiting that long was the silly Washington state high school rule book, which prevented her from playing varsity high school ball during her middle school days.

Swap rule books with a state like Kentucky and she would have been making rival high school coaches rip out their hair back when she was 12.

Through it all, as Wright came within a play or two of making it to state as a sophomore and junior, then got over the hump as a senior, she was a bonafide leader.

Vocal, the very definition of loud ‘n proud, whether in the dugout, face first in the prairie dust, or running through the parking lot as the Seagull Queen, she will never truly be replaced.

Yes, someone else will be behind the plate next season, and in the years to come.

Hopefully they will have strong careers, and, hopefully, they will enjoy their days on the diamond as much as Sarah did hers.

But you don’t truly replace the legends.

Whether it’s Hailey Hammer, or Breeanna Messner, or Wright, after they’re gone, you can close your eyes the next time you’re in the stands at the CHS diamond, and you will see them still out there playing.

For now, she leaves her field, her town, but she’s not truly going anywhere, because our memories of her will last.

There was never really a doubt Sarah would one day be walking (actually, sprinting while giggling and throwing sandwich bits in the air) into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

I knew it when I watched her play in middle school and little league, and nothing changed my mind as she traveled her journey.

So, after this, you’ll find her at the top of the blog, up under the Legends tab.

And, you’ll find her in the memories of Wolf fans.

Long after her last high school award, her final banquet, the last time she took off a Wolf uniform she wore with genuine pride and joy, Sarah will still be out there, gunnin’ and grinnin’ as the sun sets across the prairie.

Covered in dirt from head to toe, tackling her teammates in joy, standing on the dugout bench, batting helmet jammed backwards on her head, screaming “GET OFF HER, BALL!!!,” having the time of her life.

There is only one Sarah Wright, and we were very lucky to have her.

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Veronica Crownover had a run on the softball diamond few other Wolves can match. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The welcome committee awaits the conquering hero after a mammoth home-run.

Along with being a terror on offense, she was a nimble, sure-handed defender at first-base.

She was feared, respected, and loved, which makes for a pretty potent mix.

Once she got out of middle school, leaving volleyball and basketball behind her, Veronica Crownover tackled softball with a laser focus, becoming one of the best to ever wear a Coupeville High School uniform.

During her four-year run on the prairie, which came to a close this spring, the first-baseman was an integral part in back-to-back league titles (the second and third in 41 years of Wolf softball) and the program’s first win at the state tourney since 2002.

Along the way, she became the first Coupeville softball player I’ve ever seen receive multiple intentional walks in one game.

South Whidbey coach Brad Jaeger looked across the field at Crownover bending her bat in half while waiting in the on-deck circle and said, “No, ma’am, no sir, no how, no way.”

And he was probably right, as Crownover had torched Falcon ace Chanel Sterba in a previous game, bashing a grand-slam which bounced up the street towards Prairie Center.

As impressive as that cannon shot was, it wasn’t even her biggest blow of the year.

Of the five over-the-fence home runs she unloaded as a senior, Crownover’s Pièce De Résistance came in the year’s most-satisfying win.

Given a chance to face next-door neighbor Oak Harbor for the first time in maybe forever, the lil’ 1A Wolves stunned the 3A Wildcats 8-4 on their own field.

The hottest hitter in that game was Crownover, who launched an epic RBI single, smashed a moon shot for a two-run double, was intentionally walked, and, oh yes, cleared the towering left field fence for a game-deciding three-run home run.

To appreciate the full fury of her day, and the joy it brought Wolf nation, pop over to https://coupevillesports.com/2019/03/16/big-hearts-big-win/ to once again marinate in the moment.

But, as awe-inspiring as her performance was that day, it was just one small slice from a career which can stand with any put together by a CHS softball player.

Crownover, hot off a little league run which also included a trip to state (and a brief trial-run as a pitcher), had an immediate impact as a Wolf freshman.

She was selected as a First-Team All-Conference player by Olympic League coaches after bashing the snot out of the ball.

In particular, she was the first Wolf to turn the tide against Klahowya’s Amber Bumbalough.

In the early-going of the league, the Eagle hurler dominated, but then Coupeville turned the tide on the eventual D-I pitcher, beating KSS six straight times.

Jae LeVine and Tiffany Briscoe came through with unexpected, big-time blows against Klahowya during that stretch, while Katrina McGranahan and Sarah Wright upheld their reputations as all-world offensive threats.

But it was Crownover — swinging a bat she should have called “Thunder,” because it made a ferocious rumble every time she connected with the ball — who proved the Wolves could terrorize high-level pitching.

And they did it against other teams, as well.

South Whidbey’s Mackenzee Collins is also now a D-I pitcher, but Crownover tore her pitches to pieces, and the Wolves never lost to the Falcons in the four years Veronica wore the uniform.

By the time she was finished, Coupeville’s titan of swat had been tabbed to three All-Conference teams (and robbed one other time) and piled up stats which compare to any Wolf.

Everyone’s enduring image of Crownover will be of her crushing home-runs, yanking doubles off the top of the wall, or slicing wicked liners that whizzed an inch past a startled pitcher’s face on their way to RBI nirvana.

But she was also a top-level defender, the glue which often held the Wolf infield together.

Crownover had a slick glove, was often surprisingly nimble around the bag, and was a cerebral player, making the smart play time and again.

Her combination of providing a superior target, always being ready, and being capable of pulling off quick tags allowed Wolf catcher Sarah Wright to frequently whizz pick-off throws at unexpected moments, and the duo erased a pleasing amount of runners.

Through it all, from the little league days to her final moments on the field at the state tourney in Richland, where she and her teammates upended highly-ranked Deer Park, Crownover was the same easy-going, fun-loving, deadly-efficient slugger.

Today we induct her into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, where she joins others diamond greats such as Sarah Mouw and Breeanna Messner, and it’s an honor she more than deserves.

After this, you’ll find Crownover at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

She’ll be easy to spot.

Just look for the player who has to pull a cart behind her, because she collected too many home-run balls to just carry them in her arms.

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Allie Lucero will join twin sister Maya as freshmen at Coupeville High School this fall. (Photos courtesy Jess Lucero)

In between playing three sports, Lucero finds time to hang out with a wide variety of animals.

You name it, Allie Lucero is likely involved in it.

Much like twin sister Maya, she plays three sports, while also pursuing a wide range of activities from band to Girls Scouts and way beyond.

Which doesn’t mean Lucero can’t also find time to tend to a menagerie of animals.

She has her dog, Yadi, to play with, while also commanding an army of chickens and ducks the family raises.

Lucero, who will be a freshman at Coupeville High School in the fall, tabs language arts as her favorite class, and likes to “read, hang out with friends and family, paint, watch Netflix, cook, and garden.”

And, somehow, in the middle of all that, she finds the time to also be one of the town’s most-promising young athletes.

During her middle school days, Lucero played SWISH and school basketball, club and school volleyball, and little league softball.

She plans to stay true to all three sports as she hits the high school stage, which is great news for local fans, as she and Maya bring skill, determination, and a love of the game to everything they do.

Following in the footsteps of older brother Dane, who just graduated from CHS after playing football, basketball, and baseball, Allie is out to make a name for herself.

“It would be pretty memorable and awesome if I had a chance to go to state for any sport,” Lucero said.

“I would also like to make varsity on one or all of these sports throughout high school,” she added. “And, finally, I want to improve and succeed.”

Lucero, who springs from a family with a deep sports background, embraces the chance to be an athlete.

“I enjoy staying active and always learning new things as an athlete,” she said.

Turning lessons into improvement on the field or court is huge for Lucero.

“Some (of my) strengths as an athlete are staying positive and enthusiastic, and my level of commitment,” she said.

“My best skills are serving and setting in volleyball, and fielding and hitting in softball,” Lucero added. “Yet, there is always more that I can learn and improve on with these sports.”

She’s picked up these lessons from many people along the way, and approaches each practice, each game, eager to soak up knowledge.

“There are many people who have helped me become the athlete that I am today,” Lucero said. “My coaches, who have always helped me improve on what I needed work on.

“This includes my mom and dad, who have supported me ever since I started sports,” she added. “My dad has always given great advice, and something he says that I will always remember, is to become successful by doing the things that others aren’t willing to do.”

Being a twin, Lucero always has someone else close by who’s playing at the same level as she is, which is a nice built-in advantage.

Maya has also supported me and has practiced with me in our yard countless times.”

While she approaches all of her sports with an open heart and a gung-ho attitude, Lucero is most at home in the fall and spring.

“My favorite sports are softball and volleyball,” she said. “I love softball because I have played it since I was seven. I love the game, and I always have the best time hitting or fielding.

“Volleyball is also a favorite, because even though I haven’t played it for very long, it always excites me, and it never gets old or boring!,” Lucero added. “I love these sports because I can always explore improvements to make, and I find them super fun.”

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