Archive for the ‘Softball’ Category

Madison McMillan is a three-sport athlete with a very bright future. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Madison McMillan is in a unique position.

As she prepares to enter Coupeville High School as a freshman this fall, the three-sport star already knows what it’s like to be a high school athlete.

McMillan was one of seven 8th grade girls who played above their grade level last year, helping a CHS hoops program which struggled with low numbers.

Given an extra, early season of high school basketball, she tallied 33 points across five JV games in a pandemic-altered season, finishing second on her squad in scoring.

McMillan powers in for a bucket. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Not content to stop there, McMillan quickly moved to the softball diamond, capping her final season in little league by being a homerun-bashing supernova — first for Central Whidbey’s juniors squad, then for an All-Star team which finished fourth at the state tourney.

Along the way, she crushed an out-of-the-park dinger which brought back memories of previous Coupeville sluggers like Hailey Hammer and Veronica Crownover, who both went on to have legendary four-year runs on the high school diamond.

Toss in volleyball, and McMillan plans to be a busy bee during her high school days, playing year-round.

“As long as my grades are good!,” she said with a laugh.

McMillan is part of a tight-knit group of talented young Coupeville athletes who have grown up together, uniting as teammates and friends.

“My most favorite thing about being an athlete is playing the sport with friends and winning and losing as a team,” she said.

“I also love the sense of competition between teams, because both teams want to win.”

McMillan, who enjoys history and English classes when in school, tabs sports classics A League of Their Own and Miracle as her favorite films.

Ready to drop the hammer. (Jackie Saia photo)

Her love of sports has led her to embrace the idea of being a three-sport athlete, which is huge at a small school like Coupeville, which needs as many players as possible.

“My favorite sport really depends on the season,” McMillan said. “Like, if it was the fall, my favorite sport would most likely be volleyball.

“Or, if it was spring and summer then it would be softball, when winter would be basketball,” she added. “So I’m pretty fortunate to have a sport for each season.”

As she has grown as an athlete and young woman, McMillan has had many mentors, with her grandparents, Gordon and Nancy, standing out.

“My grandpa definitely had the greatest influence on not only my sports career, but my life as well,” McMillan said. “He coached the tee-ball team I was on, and rookies.

“And along with my grandma, he comes to cheer every single game, no matter what sport it is.

“And jokes if I play college sports he and my grandma will buy a trailer and drive to each game.”

McMillan and Teagan Calkins celebrate as they roll to another win. (Jackie Saia photo)

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It’s (Hailey) Hammer Time. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This blog turns nine years old August 15, and to mark the occasion, I’m picking what I view as the best nine Wolf athletes from each active CHS sport.

To be eligible, you had to play for the Wolves between Aug. 2012-Aug. 2021, AKA the “Coupeville Sports” years.

So here we go. Each day between Aug. 1-15, a different sport and (probably) a different argument.


The hits never stop coming.

Softball is one of the most-successful sports at Coupeville High School, and the Wolves have been especially good the last several seasons.

Which means I could form a second all-star team from the girls who were the last ones sliced from this list, go out, and beat pretty much everyone in sight.

But at this exact moment in time, before I waver again, here’s my mythical nine — a lineup of booming bats and electric arms, all owned by some of the most intensely-competitive young women to ever wear a CHS jersey.

Mikayla Elfrank denies you. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

McKayla Bailey — She pitched until her arm fell off, carrying her squad to state in a season in which she threw every single pitch. That she also owned a wicked-hot bat, was brilliant in the classroom, and is the undisputed queen of photo bombs? Even better.

Veronica Crownover — All-Conference as a freshman, led her team to state as a senior. Mashed the ball like few others, clearing fences in multiple ballparks, while also showing a remarkably nimble touch on defense while holding down first base.

Mikayla Elfrank — When she was on fire, she was truly eye-popping. Bounced a home run off carnival rides in Sequim, denting the equipment, and her throws from the hole at short remain, arguably, the hardest ever thrown on the CHS diamond.

Hailey Hammer — A legend. Feared by every pitcher she faced, and loved by her coaches, the 12-time letter-winner wrote the perfect final chapter, lashing a game-winning hit into the fading sunlight in her final at-bat on the prairie.

Katrina McGranahan — She was a captain from her freshman season, a pitcher who carried her team on her back, and a hitter who raked. Add in speed, smarts, and a fiery intensity carefully hidden beneath a calm exterior, and she could, and would, beat you in 1,001 different ways.

Chelsea Prescott — The chosen one. She played softball like a baseball player — a testament to her little league days, when she played with the boys — achieving individual greatness while fueling team success. State as a sophomore, then a 12-0 run as a senior. Covid stole her junior year, but never dimmed her star.

Lauren Rose — Off the field, one of the kindest people in the world. On the field, a killer who once jumped out of a moving car, grabbed her bat, and without a moment of warm-up, tore up to the plate and immediately belted a line-drive hit.

Bessie Walstad — Rock-solid doesn’t even begin to describe this three-sport star, whose mixture of talent, leadership, and calm composure under fire will be long remembered. Brothers Tim and Joel are strong athletes, but, with respect, Bessie is the sun their planets revolve around.

Sarah Wright — Brash, loud, and fun, a fast-talkin’, softball-crunchin’ supernova who could talk the talk, but always walked the walk to back it up. Whether crashing head-first into the bag to beat a throw, threatening to eat worms, chasing seagulls around the parking lot at the state tourney, or gunning down hapless would-be base-stealers, the most entertaining force of nature to ever sweep across the prairie.

When she was on the field, few were as talented as Bessie Walstad. (Shelli Trumbull photo)


Up next: We’re off to the hardwood to hail the best male hoops stars.

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Madison McMillan and Co. ruled the softball diamond this spring. (Jackie Saia photo)

They got by with a little help from their friends.

Central Whidbey Little League sent two softball teams to the state tournament this spring, with their juniors squad, which finished fourth, a joint effort with North Whidbey Little League.

Both teams benefited immensely from the support of the local community, with numerous Whidbey businesses helping defer costs for players and families to travel off-Island.

“This was an amazing experience for 28 of these Whidbey Island young athletes!,” said juniors coach Fred Farris. “The memories will live with them for years to come.

“Both teams represented CW, NW, and District 11 admirably, both on and off the field, during their respective tournaments, against the best teams in the state, and we couldn’t be prouder of their hard work and excellent sportsmanship.”

Additional support was garnered through car washes and a GoFundMe page.


Businesses which supported the softball teams on their state tourney journey:

A+ Glass
Acorn Dental Clinic
Aqua Gifts
Ashley’s Design
Cascade Custom Homes & Design
Ebey Academy
Enchanted Beedle
Flyers Restaurant and Brewery
Front Street Grill
Front Street Realty
Harmony Vet
Island Quality Construction
Iverson Insurance
Kingfisher Books
Land Title & Escrow
Laurie Black
Leisure Yacht Charters
Little Two Cottages
Main Street Collision
My Sister’s Closet
NAPA Auto Parts
OLF Storage
Pacific Indoor Tactical
Party City
PC Red Apple Market
Penn Cove Vet
Pizza Factory
Prada Styles & Cuts
Quilters Workshop
Red’s Construction & Roofing
Salon Blue
Snakelum Point Investments
Sunshine Drip
Terra Firma Wealth Management
Toby’s Tavern
Touch of Dutch
Whidbey Natural Pet
Whidbey/Humphrey Sign
Windermere Property Management
Windermere Realty – Coupeville
Wood Bee Custom Carpentry

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Coupeville High School softball sensations Izzy (left) and Savina Wells will be a senior and freshman, respectively, this coming school year. (Katy Wells photo)

Wolf juniors Gwen Gustafson (middle) and Sofia Peters hang out with coach Lark Gustafson. (Paula Peters photo)

They exited with a roar.

Handing the previously-undefeated Skagit Bats travel team its first loss of the summer, the Coupeville High School softball squad earned a doubleheader split Wednesday night.

Following up a 5-4 win in the opener with a narrow 6-3 loss to a well-rested Burlington squad in the nightcap, the Wolves finished their off-season run with a strong 6-3 record.

Coupeville nailed down the victory when Gwen Gustafson lifted a sac fly to the heavens in the bottom of the seventh inning, sending Savina Wells scooting for home with the deciding run.

The Bats have spent the summer blowing people out, but Coupeville came close to toppling them the first time around, falling 13-10.

Take that narrow earlier defeat, then flip the script with Wednesday’s win, and CHS coach Kevin McGranahan came away pleased, noting it as “a great measure of development.”

After a tense opening game in the July heat, the 2B Wolves hung tough with 2A Burlington, before running out of gas at the end.

“We were hot and exhausted, and Burlington was fresh with only one game,” McGranahan said. “We lost, but definitely could beat them if fresh.”

With a full roster for summer ball, the Wolves can only benefit from the additional playing time.

“This was a great summer and the team gelled very well,” McGranahan said. “We will be ahead of the game come season start.

“I am so proud of all the girls that practiced and played through the summer; their commitment and work ethic will pay off.”

McGranahan also praised the player’s families, and his coaching staff, which includes Ron Wright, Lark Gustafson, Katrina McGranahan, and Aaron Lucero.

“I want to make sure and thank all the parents; without their support this doesn’t work,” he said. “We had packed stands every Wednesday evening.

“This coaching staff is amazing; these girls are in good hands.”

While he won’t work with his players as a group again until next spring, Kevin McGranahan hopes each diamond warrior takes the initiative to keep improving.

“Well, about six months off now, and the team needs to work on their own through fall and winter to maintain where we are,” he said. “Well done, ladies! See you in about six months.”

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Sofia Peters (left) and Gwen Gustafson are part of a “bright future” for Coupeville High School softball. (Photo courtesy Irene Gustafson)

Wins are nice, growth even better.

Getting some of both, the Coupeville High School softball squad strolled to an 8-2 win over next door neighbor Oak Harbor Wednesday, running its summer league winning streak to four games.

The Wolves enjoyed a bigger roster than before, with incoming freshmen who played on the Whidbey Island All-Star juniors team in uniform for the first time.

That group was coming off a district title and a four-game run at the state little league tourney.

“All the new freshmen played for the first time last night and did a great job, with some minor hiccups along the way,” said CHS coach Kevin McGranahan.

“But, all in all, I was impressed with their poise and how they competed,” he added. “The Wolf fastpitch program has a very bright future.”

With the influx of new players, McGranahan had to shuffle his lineup a bit to insure playing time for the newcomers.

“It is impossible to play 20 girls in one game, so I want to thank those that I asked to take a week off,” he said. “You gave the younger girls valuable experience last night.

“Thanks for being unselfish and “taking one for the team”.”

Coupeville closes summer league play next Wednesday, July 28, when it plays its final two games of the off-season.

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