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Posts Tagged ‘OHHS Wildcats’

Whidbey Island baseball stars (l to r) Hunter Smith, James Besaw, and Joey Lippo will all be on the same college team next spring. (Teresa Besaw photo)

They’re getting the band back together.

Green River College is adding a fourth Whidbey Island grad to its baseball roster, with Oak Harbor’s James Besaw joining Coupeville alumni Hunter Smith, Joey Lippo, and CJ Smith.

The Smith brothers started the pipeline flowing, playing for the Gators this spring, while Lippo and Besaw, who grew up playing baseball together, will be newcomers to the Green River roster.

Besaw played this spring for the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, where he appeared in six games during his freshman season.

While he enjoyed his time on the East Coast, the first-baseman decided he wanted to play, and attend school, closer to home.

Back in town for the summer, he linked up with Lippo, who had decided to follow the Smith brothers to Green River, and the decision became an easy one.

“We checked out the campus last week and he liked it, so now we’re looking forward to these boys playing ball together again,” said very-happy mom Teresa Besaw.

Lippo and Besaw join a Green River team which went through a rebuilding season, while showing much promise for the future.

Hunter Smith started at second and short for the Gators, before a broken hand late in the year brought a premature end to his season.

Older brother CJ, who was also a college freshman, was Green River’s top relief pitcher.

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Freshman Morgan Stevens reached base four times Thursday afternoon, as Coupeville High School JV softball rallied for a wild 19-18 win over Oak Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Wolves celebrate their big win. (Photo courtesy Greg Thomas)

Chloe Wheeler is having herself a moment.

Less than 24 hours after crunching her first-ever varsity hit, a magnificent two-run double to deep left field at Granite Falls, the softball slugger launched an even-bigger hit on her home field.

This time it was an RBI single smashed back up the middle, a walk-off bomb in the bottom of the fifth inning Thursday that lifted Coupeville’s JV squad to a wild win.

Down 11-2, the 1A Wolves came all the way back to upend their big-school neighbors, 3A Oak Harbor.

The 19-18 win, settled moments before the rain and darkness arrived on the prairie, gave Coupeville a season split in JV games with their North End foes.

Tack on a Wolf varsity win at Oak Harbor earlier this season, and CHS won two of three against the Wildcats this spring.

With the win, the Wolf JV evens its record at 3-3, heading into a Saturday doubleheader at Port Angeles.

Thursday’s game was a prime testament to a team not giving in, ever, as Coupeville only led once, when Wheeler’s hot shot bit a chunk out of the outfield grass, sending Ivy Leedy streaking home with the game’s final run.

Oak Harbor opened on fire, tossing five runs on the board in the top of the first, and another six in the second.

In between, Coupeville scraped together a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, with freshman Audrianna Shaw beginning a torrid day at the plate with a two-run triple to the wall in left field.

That plated Wheeler, who beat the throw to first on a dropped third strike, and Abby Meyers, who swatted a single to center.

Unfortunately for the Wolves, the rally ended as quickly as it began, with Shaw stranded at third and unable to come home.

Heading into the bottom of the second, CHS found itself mired in an 11-2 hole and looking for a spark.

And the Wolves found it.

Kylie Van Velkinburgh dropped a seeing-eye single into short right-center, Mckenna Somes beat out the first of her THREE bunt singles, and Morgan Stevens walked to juice the bags with no one out.

After poking at the Wildcats, picking up a run on a Wheeler RBI single and another on a bases-loaded walk to Heidi Meyers, the Wolves fully flexed their muscles.

The show of force came courtesy back-to-back huge base-knocks, with Izzy Wells parking a two-run double to center, followed by Shaw almost killing the OHHS pitcher.

Ripping a liner right back up the middle, she banked the ball off the girl’s face-mask with a vicious clang, sending two more runners scampering home and sending a tremor rolling across the prairie.

Back within 11-8, the stage was set not for a blowout, but for a war, and the two teams obliged.

Back and forth it went.

Oak Harbor stretched the lead out to 13-8, Coupeville cut it to 13-12 (with Wheeler crunching an RBI triple), the Wildcats stamped on the gas again to make it 18-12, then the Wolves slashed it back down to 18-17 by the end of the fourth inning.

In between, there were big hits — Van Velkinburgh whipping a two-run single to dead center that left her bat like it had bought a ticket on a jet liner.

There were big hustle plays — Leedy crashing hard down the third-base line, before ducking under the tag to score on a bunt single by Somes.

And there were big defensive moments — Wolf shortstop Abby Meyers gunning down a runner heading into third, and Leedy snagging a foul ball while threatening to crash into the first-base dugout.

Which all led us to the only way a game like this could end, or should end, with a nail-biter finish which blossomed into a home-town celebration.

Oak Harbor opened the top of the fifth inning, which was to be the final frame with the approach of darkness, by eking out a walk.

It would be the last happy moment for the Wildcats, unless they got to hit McDonald’s on the way home.

Van Velkinburgh, working strongly in the pitcher’s circle, induced an infield pop-up, at which point things got odd.

Coming from short and second, sisters Abby and Heidi Meyers almost ran into each other, the ball dropped in, the sisters started to argue, and the runner coming from first froze two steps into her journey, perhaps not wanting to get into the middle of a family spat.

Though maybe it was just a ruse, meant to throw off the runner, as Abby bellowed “Heidi, ball!!!!!” and her older sibling immediately snatched it up and calmly flipped it to her lil’ sis for the force-out.

At which point the Meyers sisters looked at each other, grinned, and slapped mitts, while the forlorn ‘Cat runner slowly, very slowly, walked off the field.

That left a runner at first (the batter who hit the pop-up), but it was nothing, as Coupeville promptly closed the inning with a double-play.

Van Velkinburgh got another pop up, this time right to third-base, where Shaw snatched it out of the air for out #2, before spinning and firing to Leedy at first to double up the straying runner for out #3.

Having held Oak Harbor scoreless for the only time in the game, Coupeville sprinted back to its dugout still down by a run, but with 99.89% of the fans convinced this was about to be a winner, winner, chicken dinner.

It wasn’t a question of if it would happen, but how, and the Wolves made quick work of the scenario.

Singles from Shaw and Van Velkinburgh, wrapped around a walk to Leedy, jammed the bases full with no outs, then the Wolves pulled off a rare play to knot the score.

Somes struck out, but when the ball skittered away from the catcher, she tore down to first base.

Since the base was occupied, she really had nowhere to go, but Oak Harbor seemed to forget that, and when they threw to first to try and get her, Shaw bolted for home, sliding in with the tying run.

Flustered and frustrated, the Wildcats were on the edge, just waiting to be pushed off.

Stevens gave them a little poke, dropping an infield single on a ball which spun about 485 times before coming to a stop right in front of the pitcher, which set up Wheeler for hero time.

Much like her varsity at-bat the night before, #2 was locked and loaded, her bat slicing downward and shooting the ball out where no one was going to catch it.

The wild finale capped a game in which CHS collected an astonishing 19 hits, at least according to my (generous) scoring.

Shaw and Van Velkinburgh each delivered four base-knocks, while Wheeler and Somes had three apiece.

Stevens reached base four times, collecting two singles and two walks, with Wells, Leedy, and Abby Meyers rounding out the hit parade.

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CHS freshman Kylie Van Velkinburgh made her high school pitching debut Monday afternoon in Oak Harbor. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mckenna Somes had Coupeville’s lone hit in a 15-3 loss.

Stretch yourself now, try new things, and it may pay off down the road.

JV sports are about mixing and matching, seeing who can excel while playing multiple positions.

And, while the Coupeville High School JV softball squad fell 15-3 at Oak Harbor Monday, the Wolves got a chance to build for the future.

The Wolves, now 2-1 on the season, put freshman Kylie Van Velkinburgh in the pitcher’s circle for the first time, and she went the distance, facing 27 hitters.

That’s huge, as Coupeville tries to build a solid pitching staff at the JV level.

Van Velkinburgh’s best inning was the bottom of the second, when she erased three Wildcat hitters in order, ending things by taking down the top two hitters in the lineup.

While Coupeville’s JV was hoping to follow in the footsteps of the school’s varsity softball players and upend a 3A school, Wolf bats had a rare cold day.

McKenna Somes smashed a single in the first inning, but that was it for CHS, which did manage to eke out seven walks.

They came from seven different Wolf hitters as well, with Lily Leedy, Heidi Meyers, Van Velkinburgh, Abby Meyers, Chloe Wheeler, Morgan Stevens, and Amanda Thomas all reaching base thanks to possessing eagle eyes.

Marenna Rebischke-Smith and Ivy Leedy rounded out the lineup for the Wolves, who now head into a long break.

The JV isn’t scheduled to play again until Apr. 10, while the Wolf varsity takes the field five times during that stretch.

When they do get back into action, Coupeville’s young guns have eight games left on their schedule, including a rematch Apr. 18 with Oak Harbor.

That game is set to go down on Coupeville’s diamond.

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Thanks to a schedule shuffle, Izzy Wells and her Coupeville High School softball teammates will travel Mar. 16 to Oak Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This is not a drill. This is really happening.

Thanks to a last-second schedule shuffle, true Whidbey Island high school softball supremacy will up for grabs for the first time in more than a decade.

That’s because Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and South Whidbey will play each other, a rarity when it concerns the first two teams.

Coupeville and South Whidbey are reunited in the 1A North Sound Conference this year, and are scheduled to clash three times, twice in April and once in May.

The Wolves have dominated the series in recent years, winning four non-conference games over the past three years, including 12-0 and 10-0 routs last season.

But the biggest school on the Island, 3A Oak Harbor, hasn’t accepted a challenge from Coupeville in a very long time.

You can go all the way back to 2009 using the North Sound Conference web site, and there is not a single meeting between North and Central Whidbey on a high school field.

That changes Saturday, Mar. 16.

Coupeville was originally set to host 2A Lakewood that day, but now will travel to Oak Harbor and play a road triple-header.

The Wolf varsity opens at 11 AM against Lakewood on the OHHS softball field.

Coupeville’s JV squad also plays Lakewood, but at 1 PM at Hillcrest Elementary just down the street, while Oak Harbor and Lakewood’s varsity play on the high school field.

Then, at 3 PM, on the high school field, Coupeville gets what it’s been dreaming about for some time, a chance to square off with the Wildcats.

South Whidbey and Oak Harbor were already scheduled to meet in the season opener Mar. 12, meaning all three Whidbey teams will get a chance to recreate the magic from back when their players were in little league.

Last season, Coupeville went 12-9, South Whidbey 12-13, and Oak Harbor 2-18, but all enter a new year with a fresh slate and new challenges.

One Island, three teams, one “champion” to rule them all.

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Jamie “Senorita Smoke” Bartlett, enjoying her days as an Oak Harbor High School softball star. (Original photos by Geoff Newton)

So much joy every time she stepped on the diamond.

Jamie Bartlett was always so happy to be on a softball field.

Big win or tough loss, her joy at getting to play, her love for her teammates and her favorite game, is something which has always stuck with me.

Back in 1993, Jamie was a sophomore at Oak Harbor High School, and I, not quite six years older than her, was stumbling through a two-year run as Sports Editor at the Whidbey News-Times.

With not a single day of college to my credit, my run in the big chair had its highs and lows.

One of those peak moments was when I started referring to Jamie as “Senorita Smoke” because of the way she torched batters with her blazing fastball.

Many stories, and many nicknames later, I continue to write, and, while my focus has been firmly on Coupeville in recent years, I don’t forget my Oak Harbor roots.

From late ’89 to ’92 as a freelancer, and then ’92 to ’94 as Sports Editor, I covered many athletes whose names still invoke memories.

Manny Martucci to Natalie Turner, Gretchen Talmadge to Joe Sarpy and Pickle Sullivan, and two who have passed too soon.

Two years ago, we lost Jon Diem and now Jamie.

As I read her obit last night, discovering that my “Senorita Smoke” nickname was something which her family fondly remembered, the cancer she fought was a footnote, as it should be.

Instead, the focus was on her life with her husband, Joel, and her children, Joel, Jr. and Tayah, who are students at their mom’s alma mater.

It’s a story of a young woman of great promise who fulfilled that promise, who achieved much in what time she had.

I left the News-Times after Jamie’s sophomore year, so my image of her is somewhat frozen in time.

Staring down batters from behind her glasses, then zipping fastballs past their bats, #11 was a star. Her pitching records still stand at OHHS two decades later for a reason.

But, while the the individual strikeouts, which came one after another, fade into memory, it’s the happiness which stays with me.

Jamie played with pure joy, every single time I saw her on the diamond, and it spread to her teammates.

I am sad for her family and friends. They shouldn’t have to lose someone so dear to them just shy of her 42nd birthday.

But I am also happy for them, that they got to be part of her life, and to be touched by her joy.

Our paths crossed briefly, a writer in his early 20’s, and an athlete on the cusp of going from a teen prodigy to an all-time Wildcat legend.

A part of “Senorita Smoke” will always be with me, forever kickin’ and firin’, forever lighting up the diamond with nothing but pure joy.

 

To read Jamie’s obituary, jump to:

https://obittree.com/obituary/us/washington/oak-harbor/wallin-funeral-home–cremation-llc/jamie-mami/3687410/

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