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Archive for the ‘Softball’ Category

Chelsi Stevens, ready to unleash holy heck on a rival pitcher. (Allison Scarpo photo)

They’re the next generation of superstar softball sluggers.

Pulling together 13 girls from across the region, the Whidbey Thunder is a 12U diamond squad which plans to play in eight tournaments over the next year.

Coached by Keasha Campbell, the team will travel across Washington state, with games slated to start in late fall/early winter.

As it preps for this new adventure, the Thunder have launched a GoFundMe to give fans a chance to support their efforts.

Money raised will help with league fees — currently $900 per player — uniforms, equipment, insurance, travel expenses, and tournament fees.

Whether the Thunder players go on to suit up for Coupeville, Oak Harbor, or South Whidbey once they hit high school, the travel ball experience should be invaluable to their growth.

“Softball has always been part of our community,” Campbell said.

“It’s the basis of many young girls’ aspirations to attend college and play big, to form lifelong friendships, and to learn a skill they will love the rest of their lives.

“The goal of our team is to support our athletes not only in softball, but also in academics, school activities, and their families.”

 

The Thunder roster:

Jolene Coleman
Annika Hastings
Sophia Jennings
Gretta Jones
Charlotte Lasick
Ava Lucero
Adeline Maynes
Chelsi Stevens
Kennedy Rae Strevel
Cameron Van Dyke
Sydney Van Dyke
Abby Whitney
Sophie Zeigler

 

To support the team, pop over to:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/player-fees-for-whidbey-island-thunder-softball?qid=b1e59481aa5496815ff0c4360621c547

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Teagan Calkins and her fellow Wolf diamond queens picked up a ton of experience this summer playing for a travel softball squad. (Photo courtesy Shawn Calkins)

The uniform may change, but the game remains the same.

Coming off another successful high school softball season, six Coupeville sluggers stayed on the diamond this summer, playing for the Whidbey Thunder travel team.

Allie Lucero, Taylor Brotemarkle, Madison McMillan, Teagan Calkins, Maya Lucero, and Mia Farris formed the core of the squad, which played almost every weekend in June and July.

“They had a very good and productive summer, getting in tons of extra reps with the bat and also in the field,” said CHS coach Kevin McGranahan, who played the role of fan this time around.

“The experience they gained will pay huge dividends for us next season,” he added. “And hopefully lead us to another league/district championship.”

McGranahan was in the stands in Federal Way this past weekend for the finale and came away pleased with what he witnessed.

“I got to see the work they are putting in firsthand, and it was impressive to see them leading their combined team of travel players and the overall growth they showed.”

The Wolves taking advantage of the extra work range from rising seniors (the Lucero twins) to sophomores-to-be (Brotemarkle, McMillan, Farris) and an incoming freshman (Calkins) who saw varsity playing time as an 8th grader.

Not only did the players benefit from their summer work, but they also helped inspire their high school coach.

“I took the summer off to regroup and rest a little,” McGranahan said. “But watching them play their hearts out has relit my passion for the game.”

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Aaron Lucero imparts wisdom to Maya Nottingham. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Just when you think you’re done, you’re not.

Sitting here in mid-July, I’ve stumbled across three photos from the spring which, for whatever reason, were never used in-season.

So, here you go, a flashback to former glory.

Tenley Stuurmans, ready to launch.

Melanie Navarro gets low to snag an incoming grounder.

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Bella Whalen (right) rocks the crocs with teammate and friend Sofia Peters during her Coupeville days. (Photos courtesy Tiffani Blazek)

They never lost with her in the lineup.

The pandemic erased her freshman season, but Bella Whalen swung a big bat a year later for a Coupeville High School softball squad which went 12-0 in spring 2021.

That Wolf team outscored foes 154-41, trailing just once all season.

Unfortunately, as often happens, families move and Whalen and Co. were off to Maryland, where she now attends Leonardtown High School.

Whalen now lives (and attends prom) on the east coast.

As Whalen heads into her senior year — while still pining a bit for the idea of returning to Coupeville — the irrepressible one is busy crafting a new life.

She still swings a big bat on the softball diamond, playing first base and shortstop for Wagners 18U Gold, a travel ball team.

Whalen’s season highlight was leading her squad to the championship game in a tournament held in Pennsylvania.

While she plays softball and attends class on the other side of the country now, the former Wolf ace looks back fondly at her time wearing the red and black.

“My highlights were probably coming back during Covid and getting back into the swing of things,” Whalen said. “As an athlete, it was probably my sophomore year and being a part of the undefeated season.

“Although not being able to compete at state (with the pandemic erasing any playoffs), it still was an amazing accomplishment.”

“Don’t hurt the pitcher?? Too late!”

Whalen gave back to younger athletes during her time in Coupeville, working with Central Whidbey Little League players and helping them embrace the sport she loves.

“Coaching has always been my dream, and that was ever since I was little,” she said. “The idea of teaching what I knew to kids/young adults that will further the softball program in Coupeville and Whidbey as a whole.

“Growing up I had the opportunity to have a high school student as an assistant coach for little league,” Whalen added.

“That really helped me figure out fundamental problems, or changes in mindset that’ll help me further in games, especially tougher games, and I just wanted to pass that onto girls like Taylor Brotemarkle and Mia Farris.”

One thing she didn’t pass on — but which is still remembered by many — is her secret fear.

And that fear? That Mother Nature was coming for her every spring, one gentle creature at a time.

“Something that the public doesn’t know and probably shouldn’t know … but it’s that I’m deathly terrified of butterflies,” Whalen said.

“Like so terrified. I’m sure there is a video or a photo of me during practice or during a warmup sprinting away from a butterfly as a ball was coming at me,” she added with a laugh.

“My teammate and longtime friend since minors in little league, Sofia Peters, always made sure to torment me during bus rides or practices when a butterfly came my way by stopping me or getting in my way so that the butterfly could get as close as they could before I broke down and started freaking out.”

But Whalen is strong and promises to persevere.

Whalen forms part of a murder’s row of softball stars with Izzy (left) and Savina Wells.

She still has a year of high school life left but is already looking to the future.

“As a senior I would love to finish high school strong, with good grades and of course attending all the high school events I can before graduating,” she said.

Post-high school Whalen would like to attend the University of Alabama and “major in Secondary Special Education and possibly minor in Sports Media.”

Her time spent on Whidbey helped set her up for future success, and Whalen is quick to praise mentors such as CHS Principal Geoff Kappes and his wife Christie, an influential teacher.

“Although Mr. Kappes gave me a hard time in the hallways and announcing to the whole lunchroom that it was my birthday, he always brought a smile to my face every day with the godawful dad jokes and always made me feel at home,” Whalen said.

“And for Mrs. Kappes, oh Mrs. Kappes, I love her with my whole heart, and nothing will change that.

“She was the first teacher I had on my first day of freshman year, and I’m glad I could finish out my time there with her as my chemistry teacher.

“It felt like I was closing a chapter when I said goodbye to them after I moved and I’m glad they were in my life.

“They were like my school parents, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.”

While life moves on in both Coupeville and Maryland, Whalen hopes her former town doesn’t forget her.

“I hope Coupeville remembers me as an upbeat and loud softball player, someone who would put their teammates first before anything else,” she said.

“I hope that my legacy goes beyond the high school and ends up circling within the softball community and hope to positively influence future players.”

Off to enjoy a day of Major League Baseball action.

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Sofia Peters is ready for her senior year at Coupeville High School. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

“I’m so glad I got to grow up in an amazing school.”

When fall arrives, Sofia Peters and her fellow seniors in the Coupeville Class of 2023 will kick off their final run as high schoolers.

The annual countdown towards graduation — with big events like Homecoming, prom, and awards night scattered along the way — stretches out over nine months yet will likely seem like it’s flying by for students and parents.

For Peters, who has attended Coupeville schools since kindergarten, enjoying the time left and thanking those who have helped guide her along the path is huge.

“Something that the general public doesn’t know about me is how much I really love being a student at CHS,” Peters said. “It has given me so many amazing opportunities.

“I’ve had such a great support system and so many people who made an impact on me,” she added.

That has ranged from parents Mike and Paula Peters to CHS teachers and administration.

“My parents have always believed in me and always had my back,” Sofia said.

“And (Dean of Students) Tom Black and (teacher) Kyle Nelson — those are both people who really made school feel like a safe space.

“They always believed in me and helped me realize I didn’t need to always be so serious in school or in class.”

Peters has been a standout in both academics and athletics, earning induction into the National Honor Society and swinging a lively bat while playing second-base for the high-flying Wolf softball team.

Her freshman diamond season was swept away by the pandemic, but she stayed true to her sports calling, helping Coupeville go 12-0 and 16-3 the past two seasons.

“I hit, son. It’s my thing.”

Peters showed off a slick glove while playing in the infield and often raked at the plate.

Her best day as a junior was a five-hit performance against Sultan, with two of the base-knocks going for extra-bases.

Peters actually has pulled double duty on the diamond recently, working as a volunteer coach with Central Whidbey Little League softball teams while continuing her own playing career.

She’s following in the footsteps of her parents, both of whom have devoted countless hours to helping CWLL thrive.

“Something that drew me to help coaching was that it gave me more experience with kids, and I could see and learn how to help them,” Peters said.

The Wolf senior hopes to attend college in California, with an eye on earning a degree in elementary education.

“Some positives I’ve gotten while coaching would have to be watching the players grow and develop their softball skills,” Peters said.

“A lot of the players who I’ve helped coach hadn’t ever played before and watching them grow has been a great experience for me.”

As she looks ahead to her senior year, Peters has clear goals in mind.

“I would most like to accomplish keeping my grades up and staying strong all the way through the end,” she said.

“When I leave CHS I hope people will remember how much I’ve grown throughout school. Like how I was when I was a freshman compared to how I am as a senior.”

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