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With Orcas Island stepping away from spring sports, Daniel Olson’s senior season dips from 10 games to nine. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

And then there were six.

Things change at a moment’s notice in the Age of Coronavirus, and Wednesday brought a new wrinkle.

Orcas Island informed Northwest 2B/1B League officials it will not begin athletics until students return to in-person education.

Currently, the expectation is for that to happen in late March, though nothing is guaranteed.

With a condensed spring sports season running from February 22 to April 3, Orcas is out, with the hope it will be back in when traditional fall sports run March 29 to May 8.

The Vikings are the second group of NWL athletes to bow out due to COVID-19 concerns, as Chimacum already opted to delay joining what is intended to be an eight-team league.

Chimacum combined with next-door neighbor Port Townsend for the 2020-2021 school year, and the schools are playing in the 1A/2A Olympic League as East Jefferson.

With Orcas stepping away from spring sports, two Coupeville teams lose a total of four games from already pared-down schedules.

The Wolf softball squad was set to host the Vikings March 13, then join the CHS baseball team in traveling to Orcas March 23.

That road trip was to feature a softball doubleheader and a lone hardball contest.

With the changes, Coupeville softball sees its schedule shrink from 12 to nine games, while Wolf baseball goes from 10 to nine.

CHS track and girls tennis are unaffected, as Orcas doesn’t field teams in those sports.

 

UPDATE #1: A trip to Friday Harbor has been added to the schedule on March 19, bringing both Coupeville diamond schedules up to 10 games.

 

UPDATE #2: Softball will play a home doubleheader March 6 against Friday Harbor, instead of the previously-planned single game, raising its schedule back to 11 games. 

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After a year off due to COVID-19, Izzy Wells and Co. are back to reclaim the diamond. (Karen Carlson photo)

It’s been a long time coming.

Coupeville High School softball players are back on the field and ready to play games again for the first time since the 2019 state tournament.

The COVID-19 shutdown cost the Wolves the 2020 season and prevented four-year players such as Emma Mathusek and Scout Smith from experiencing their senior season.

But, while that hurts, the focus when players opened practice Monday was a positive one, said CHS coach Kevin McGranahan.

“I have 22 girls as of today and ALL of them have been practicing when we could throughout the last year,” he said. “They have all stuck by the program and are anxious to get the season going.

“I could not be more proud of this team,” McGranahan added.

“I am always proud of my teams, but this particular set of girls have endured through the last year and finally get to showoff a little bit.”

Leading the way will be five players from that 2019 team, which won a North Sound Conference title, finished second at districts, then advanced to state for the third time in program history.

Seniors Chelsea Prescott, Mollie Bailey, and Coral Caveness are joined by juniors Izzy Wells and Audrianna Shaw.

Wells was Coupeville’s #1 pitcher as a freshman, while Prescott has been one of her team’s most-dangerous hitters since day one of her own 9th grade season.

Bailey held down third base for the 2019 state team, and also has plenty of experience as a catcher, while Caveness and Shaw played multiple positions.

The five-pack are key as the Wolves move into their home in the Northwest 2B/1B League.

“Gonna need all of them to step up and lead the younger players that have never seen varsity time due to COVID,” McGranahan said.

Coral Caveness, one of three Coupeville seniors, last played at the 2019 state tourney. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Among key newcomers for the Wolves are a group of “redshirt freshmen” — sophomores who never got to play last spring and are “talented, but very inexperienced at this level.”

These include Gwen Gustafson (pitcher/centerfield), Jill Prince (infield), and the deadly duo of Allie and Maya Lucero (infield).

Outfielder Lacy McCraw-Shirron, who transferred to Coupeville before last season, but never got on the field, is also expected to contribute.

Regardless of which of the 22 players get on the field, and in what positions, McGranahan will be there to preach hard work and improvement.

“We have strong leaders in our seniors, and our defense will be pretty solid with a scrappy offense,” he said. “(But we need to work on) softball IQ – we have to get better with our softball knowledge of the game and strategies.

“This is only because we are getting so young and inexperienced due to COVID; not a knock on the girls at all,” McGranahan added. “They just have to be able to learn quickly.”

Along with the time off, Coupeville is making the transition from 1A to 2B, with a new group of foes.

With schools playing shortened seasons as they return from the pandemic shutdown, the Wolves are scheduled for 12 games, all against league opponents.

They’ll play five games against fellow 2B schools La Conner (3) and Friday Harbor (2), with seven against 1B foes Orcas Island (3), Darrington (2), and Concrete (2).

Mount Vernon Christian (1B) doesn’t play softball, while Chimacum (2B) delayed its move to the NWL until the 2021-2022 school year.

There won’t be any playoffs this season, with the hope that things will be back to “normal” in the spring of 2022.

In particular, McGranahan, who enjoys having his team “play up,” is looking forward to when CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith can return to adding extra games to the schedule.

“I hope in future seasons we can play the 1A schools out of conference to challenge our girls, because they respond to a challenge.”

Which doesn’t mean the Wolves aren’t swinging for the fences this time out.

“Our goals are to win the league and develop the younger talent that lost a very big developmental year last season,” McGranahan said.

“Friday Harbor will be our biggest challenge from what I can tell,” he added. “They were getting pretty good before COVID, so I expect them to be our new rival.

“But with everyone having a year off, anyone could have gotten better.”

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Central Whidbey Little League players hope to return to action in March. (Jackie Saia photo)

Do a little work, eat a little pizza.

In anticipation of a new season, Central Whidbey Little League is holding a work party this Saturday, February 27.

Things kick off at 10 AM at Rhododendron Park, which is located at 502 West Patmore Road in Coupeville.

Jobs include installing the outfield fence on two fields, hanging sponsor banners, and cleaning and prepping the concession stand.

Food and drinks from the Coupeville Pizza Factory will be provided for the volunteer workers.

With COVID-19 restrictions being eased, CWLL currently plans to start its baseball and softball seasons in mid-March.

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Out of 10 Wolf track stars to compete at the 2019 state meet, Ja’Kenya Hoskins is the only one still at CHS in 2021. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Chelsea Prescott is one of five current Wolf softball sluggers who was on the varsity squad when Coupeville last played — at the state tourney May 24, 2019.

650 days.

That’s the gap between May 25, 2019 and March 4, 2021.

The first date is the last time a Coupeville High School spring sports team competed, and the second is the day the Wolf track team is scheduled to host a season-opening meet, signaling the return from the COVID-19 shutdown.

Spring sports were the first major casualty when the pandemic shut down schools in 2020.

Instead of a swan song for Wolf stars such as Scout Smith, Emma Mathusek, and the Toomey-Stout twins, Maya and Sean, fields and ovals remained silent.

While fall and winter sports have not been played in their traditional spots this school year, the hope is that spring 2020 will be the only truly empty season.

Coupeville, and its new mates in the Northwest 2B/1B League, started practice Monday, and spring sports are scheduled to run, with pared-down schedules, from February 22 to April 3.

Fall sports will go from March 29 to May 8, with winter sports expected to cap the 2020-2021 school year from May 3 to June 12.

By the time fall 2021 rolls around, will we be back to “normal?”

No one knows for sure, and, if they tell you they do, they don’t.

But, hope is back, as, masks in place, Wolf athletes return to Coupeville’s ballfields, tennis courts, and track ovals.

Way back on the weekend of May 24-25, 2019, CHS was having a pretty dang good time, with its softball and track teams competing at the state championships.

The diamond dandies, making their third trip to the big dance in 41 years of competition, put together the second-best showing in program history.

The Wolves put up a strong fight against eventual state champ Montensano, came back to thrash highly-rated Deer Park, then fell in a donnybrook with Cle Elum, a play shy of advancing to day two of the tourney.

Nine Wolves collected a hit at state, with 13 girls seeing action.

Mathusek paced the squad with six base-knocks, including three doubles, with Sarah Wright (5), Chloe Wheeler (4), Smith (4), Veronica Crownover (3), Chelsea Prescott (3), Mollie Bailey (2), Nicole Laxton (1), and Coral Caveness (1) all collecting hits.

Izzy Wells, Audrianna Shaw, Mackenzie Davis, and Marenna Rebischke-Smith also played for the Wolves.

Five of those 13 are still eligible nearly two years later, with Prescott, Bailey, and Caveness now seniors, while Wells and Shaw are juniors.

While CHS softball was rockin’ in Richland, Wolf track stars were shining in Cheney.

Coupeville’s Danny Conlisk won state titles in the 200 and 400, just missing the trifecta when he finished second in the 100.

Smashing school records in both of his winning events, the then-senior became just the fifth Wolf to win multiple titles in the same season, joining Natasha Bamberger, Jon Chittim, Kyle King, and Tyler King.

Coupeville also claimed a 2nd in the 400 (Mallory Kortuem), a 3rd in the 100 Hurdles (Lindsey Roberts), and a 3rd in the 4 x 200 relay (Ja’Kenya Hoskins, Maya Toomey-Stout, Roberts, and Kortuem).

Roberts, after taking home three state meet medals in her senior campaign, closed her stellar prep career with eight, the most of any girl in program history.

Of the 10 Wolves who competed in Cheney in the spring of 2019, only one remains at CHS.

Ja’Kenya Hoskins was just a freshman that season, and the upcoming March 4 meet will officially kick off her junior year.

With no state tourney planned for 2021, though, she will have to wait until 2022 for a possible return to Cheney.

Coupeville’s other three spring sports teams fell short of state in 2019, but all had big moments along the way.

The Wolf girls tennis team wrapped things May 14, when then-juniors Avalon Renninger and Tia Wurzrainer were eliminated at the bi-district tourney.

The deadly duo were early favorites to nab a bid to state in 2020, but the pandemic had other ideas.

Wolf baseball closed its season May 4, a 3-2 loss at bi-districts to Overlake the final game (it turned out) for coach Chris Smith.

Coupeville had opened the season with a somewhat-deceptive 0-12 mark, as its hardball squad was a run here, a run there from being above .500.

Things finally clicked into place late in the season, when the Wolves stormed to seven straight wins, including handing arch-rival South Whidbey the loss which prevented the Falcons from earning a league title.

Two starters from the team are still around in 2021, with Daniel Olson now a senior, and Hawthorne Wolfe a junior.

The final CHS spring sports team in ’19 was boys soccer. With the move to 2B, that program now plays during the traditional fall season.

Two years ago, the Wolf booters saw their season also end May 4, after suffering a 3-1 district playoff loss to Meridian.

Coupeville hung tough against the #1 seed from the Northwest Conference, though, especially since injuries had decimated the Wolves.

Players responsible for scoring 31 of the team’s 34 goals were sidelined against Meridian, while starting goalie Dewitt Cole was also unable to play.

The lone Wolf to hit the back of the net against Meridian that day was then-freshman Xavier Murdy, and he’s one of three goal scorers from the 2019 squad who could return in 2021.

Sage Downes and Tony Garcia are also still at CHS.

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Sarah Wright

No games, but good grades.

As she waits for softball to return from its COVID-19 shutdown, Coupeville’s Sarah Wright has remained a force in the classroom.

The former Wolf was one of 12 diamond dandies to make the Dean’s List for the Advent Semester of the 2020-21 academic year at Sewanee: The University of the South.

To be eligible for the Dean’s List, a student must have a semester average of 3.625 or higher after completing a semester with credit for at least three and one-half academic courses, at least three of which were taken for a grade.

Wright and her teammates topped the entire school, in fact, as their team GPA of 3.781 was the best posted by any Tigers athletic squad.

Softball was followed by women’s swim/dive (3.597), men’s cross country (3.589), women’s cross country (3.572), and volleyball (3.561).

Wright, a Valedictorian and four-sport athlete during her time in Coupeville, is a sophomore at Sewanee.

While Tigers softball has been sidelined during the pandemic, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

School officials have said Sewanee spring sports teams may compete, but only at home, with no travel involved.

No games have officially been set yet, but there is talk the team may play in late February/early March, Wright said.

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