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Posts Tagged ‘Softball’

Lauren Rose, baby whisperer, standout athlete, academic genius and all around remarkable young woman. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Rose comes up firing while patrolling the infield.

To know Lo is to adore her.

I have watched countless athletes play in my years as a sport writer, but Lauren Rose lands on a very, very small list as one of the best I have ever witnessed.

For her athletic ability? Absolutely. For her work ethic and commitment? Positively.

But also because she is simply one of the best human beings to ever pull on a Wolf uniform. Ever.

Lauren and twin sister Kayla are two of the most gracious, kind and caring, intelligent, personable young women I have met.

When you add in Lauren’s amazingly consistent, often inspired, athletic performances during her four-year run at Coupeville High School, and there is no doubt whatsoever she has long deserved inclusion into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

So, after I get done gushing about her in this article, you’ll find her enshrined up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

The supremely serene superstar, whether she was being hailed as Mouse, Munchkin or Keebler Elf, had the stats, the SportsCenter highlight plays, the big wins, and all the All-Conference awards.

But, most of all, she had a heart that was unmatched. She might not have been as tall as some of her teammates, but she played like a giant every dang day.

Pick a sport — volleyball, basketball or softball — and Rose delivered, steady, calm and collected, yet burning with desire to get better, work harder and fight longer.

She once snapped off 20 consecutive points on her serve in a varsity volleyball match against Chimacum, almost running a complete set by herself, and every serve was pure perfection.

Rose, who may have missed two or three serves in her entire four-year run for the CHS volleyball program, lashed winner after winner, putting a slightly different spin on each serve as she continually hit a target only she saw.

The Cowboys weren’t a bad team, and the match itself was competitive, but when Rose was twirling the ball and launching elegant missiles, they might as well have just sat down on the bench and enjoyed the show, cause they had no answers for what she was dealin’.

And that’s how she was in all her sports, whether finishing among the state leaders in assists as a nimble-fingered setter, harassing rivals to distraction on the basketball court as a ballhawk, or being uniformly superb at whatever position her softball coaches asked her to play.

Rose did a stint behind the plate as a freshman, waiting for Sarah Wright to arrive from middle school and take over the catching duties, then moved out to anchor the team at short and third in later years.

And it’s in the world of softball where The Keebler Elf delivered what I believe to be her most inspired moment.

Coupeville had a road game in Sequim rescheduled at the last second, which put Rose in an unexpected sticky situation.

As the leadoff hitter for the red-hot Wolves, she wanted to be in the lineup, and yet she also had an important SAT test she couldn’t miss.

Strong athlete, strong student, trapped in a no-win situation.

Except, she made it work.

First, Rose blitzed her way through the test, using a #2 pencil like a sword to defend her academic rep.

Then she bolted across the street, hurdled into a waiting car driven by a teammate’s parents and hauled tail for the ferry, not even stopping to change into her uniform.

“I’ll do it on the ferry!”

“Do you know how dirty ferry bathrooms are??????”

“I’ll move faster than the germs!!”

With the clock ticking against her, Rose (and her ride) made it to the field in Sequim with mere moments to spare, at which point she catapulted herself from the back seat of the still-moving auto, juggling her mitt, bat and snacks as she sprinted towards her coach, who was pacing madly, one eye on his watch, one on the ump.

“Oh, sweet lord, my heart…”

“Told you I’d make it,” Rose whispered to her coach as she flung her mitt and snacks over her shoulder, bouncing them into the dugout on a dime.

Never breaking pace, she sprinted to the plate, nodded to the ump, hefted her bat, glanced at the pitcher for a split second (or less) and promptly smacked the first pitch of the game, driving the ball to straight away center for a standup double.

Legendary.

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CHS grad Natalie (Slater) Maneval congratulates her college softball coach, Denny Zylstra, for being inducted into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame in 2015. (Photo courtesy Maneval)

One of the true legends of Wolf Nation has passed away, but his memory and impact will last forever.

Denny Zylstra, a 1958 graduate of Coupeville High School, was a three-sport star for the Wolves (football, basketball, baseball) who continued as an active athlete into his 40’s.

He played competitive football until he was 37, basketball until he was 45, and never really gave up softball.

Zylstra made his diamond debut when he was just eight years old, and played for an adult team during his high school days.

Over the years, he played softball in Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Spain, Italy and across America.

This included playing in state tournaments in Virginia, California and Washington, and sponsoring and pitching one of his teams to second-place at state when he was a 41-year-old whippersnapper.

When he wasn’t playing, Zylstra and wife Marcia, his high school sweetheart, were huge Coupeville High School sports fans, attending numerous games. The duo also ran the softball concession stand.

He also took the lessons learned as a player, and used them to teach the next generations.

Following in the footsteps of Mert Waller, his high school coach, and mentor, Zylstra coached multiple sports over a 50-year span, with many of those seasons here on Whidbey.

After a stint in the Navy, Zylstra began his coaching career in Virginia Beach, running a Little League team.

From there, he moved into softball, with his first stint on Whidbey coming from 1975-1985, when he coached junior (13-15) teams.

Zylstra bounced between the college and high school game in later years, working as a coach for Skagit Valley College (1986-1997, 2004-2008), Oak Harbor High School (1999-2002) and, in his final stop, back at his alma mater.

Returning to CHS in 2009, he was head coach for two seasons, and then an assistant up through his 50th and final campaign in 2012.

Mimi (Iverson) Johnson and Natalie (Slater) Maneval were Coupeville grads who played for Zylstra at Skagit Valley College, and both remember him fondly.

Denny was such a bright light everywhere he went,” Johnson said. “He had a smile and laugh that was infectious.

“His love for his players, the game, and coaching was inspiring,” she added. “I know his legacy is huge!! He will be greatly missed.”

That’s a sentiment shared by Maneval.

“He was one of the kindest men and had a very infectious smile and laugh,” she said. “I was blessed years ago to see him being inducted into the coaches hall of fame.

Denny, you will be missed by so many and you will always leave a huge impact on so many of us softball players!”

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Nick “The Big Hurt” Streubel anchors the line for the nationally-ranked Central Washington University football squad. (Photo courtesy Nanette Streubel)

Brothers CJ (left) and Hunter Smith are trying to earn spots on the Green River College baseball team. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Ally Roberts, and her trusty steed, kick off the college equestrian season next month. (Photo courtesy Roberts)

Once they were Wolves, but now they wear a variety of uniforms.

At least seven Coupeville High School grads are either currently playing college sports, or about to start a new season.

From football to basketball to equestrian sports to baseball and softball, the Cow Town alumni can be found just about anywhere.

And I say “at least seven,” because as soon as I print this story, it’ll turn out I missed someone. Happens every time.

But, at this moment, to the best of my knowledge, and in alphabetic order, here are the former Wolves who are continuing to play on in their sport of choice:

 

Kailey Kellner:

The former All-Conference hoops player returns to D’Youville College, an NCAA D-III school in New York, for her sophomore campaign.

The first time around, she played in 25 games for the women’s basketball squad, starting in several, averaging 2.3 points and 2.5 rebounds a night.

The Spartans open a new season Nov. 10 against non-conference foe Wells College.

 

Katrina McGranahan:

The Everett Community College freshman has been battling a nagging quad injury, but played through it as her softball squad went 6-0 in fall ball.

She has been splitting time between manning third-base and pitching, but is expected to mainly play in the field once the regular season begins in the spring.

At the plate, the former CHS Athlete of the Year bashed a string of extra-base hits in fall ball, narrowly missing a home run in her final game.

 

Ally Roberts:

A standout volleyball spiker in high school, she’s following her primary passion these days, competing in horse sports.

A member of the Western Washington University equestrian team, she will compete in Western gaming when the season starts in Nov.

 

CJ and Hunter Smith:

The brothers have taken their skills to Auburn, where they are in the final weeks of fall baseball with Green River College.

Both have seen time on the mound and in the infield, and will soon head into winter workouts with the goal of making the hardball squad next spring.

When they’re not fine-tuning their baseball skills, both are on educational paths as well, with CJ studying Criminal Justice and Hunter beginning his journey towards a Physical Therapy degree.

 

Makana Stone:

Coming off a trip to Brazil as part of a D-III all-star women’s basketball team, the former two-time Olympic League MVP returns for her junior season at Whitman College.

A First-Team All-Conference selection in 2017-2018, she has played in 57 college games across two seasons, pouring in 540 points, snatching 385 boards, doling out 83 assists, pilfering 34 steals and rejecting 18 shots.

As a sophomore, she averaged 12.3 points and 7.2 assists, while receiving multiple honors.

She was the MVP at the “Whitworth Holiday Classic,” made the All-Tournament team at the “Ramada at the Spokane Airport Whit Classic,” and was tabbed as the Northwest Conference Student-Athlete of the Week.

The Blues, who have gone 48-10 since the former Wolf hit campus, open the season Nov. 1 with an exhibition road game at Lewis-Clark State College.

Whitman’s regular-season opener is Nov. 10 against NAIA heavy hitter Eastern Oregon, which went 31-2 a season ago.

 

Nick Streubel:

The red-shirt junior continues to anchor the line for one of the best football teams in D-II.

Central Washington is 5-2 overall, 5-0 in league play, and carries a 15-game winning streak in conference play dating back to Oct. 2016.

Ranked #21 in the latest national poll, the Wildcats have four regular-season games left, starting with a clash with Simon Fraser Oct. 20.

An All-Conference player during his days at CHS, “The Big Hurt” was an All-Region First-Team selection as Central went undefeated and won a league crown in 2017.

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Hope Lodell charges out, ready to slice ‘n dice foes as The Surgeon. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Pick a sport, and The Surgeon will carve you up.

Hope Lodell is among the most talented athletes I have written about, and it’s far more than just what she did between the lines on a field or court.

From the moment she was born, she was frankly kind of uncanny.

Walking around while doing a handstand, and not just a few lurching feet, but traveling as far as she wanted to, her body never wavering.

In later years, she amused herself by doing pull-ups on the softball dugout during rain delays, effortlessly ripping them off until she realized everyone was watching her, mouths agape.

Dropping back down to the ground, in much the same way a cougar would pounce off of a rock to attack its prey, Lodell shook her head, smiled, rolled her eyes and bounced off to do other feats of strength, away from autograph seekers.

She could have been a hellion on the basketball court.

Actually she was, in middle school, but then left CHS coaches to sob uncontrollably in their morning Cheerios over her decision to not play the sport in high school.

What Lodell did choose was volleyball and softball, and, for four solid years, she was a BEAST. And yes, that word is supposed to be capitalized, thank you.

On the volleyball court, she was a wild woman unleashed, one of the best servers in the entire freakin’ state.

Jumping, twirling, flying into the gym from somewhere out in the hallway, then going airborne and uncorking raw, blistering heat, she peppered foes (and teammates in practice) with balls they had little chance to return.

If that alone, the ability to crush her serves, was all she had, Lodell would have been a star.

But she could do it all on the court, and morphed her game to fit what the coaches asked of her any given day.

That was never more evident than in her senior season, when she slid into the libero position formerly occupied by Valen Trujillo.

Others would have stumbled a bit, learning a new position, and a vitally important one at that, on the fly.

Lodell? She went out, adapted in the blink of an eye, and brought home an Olympic League MVP award, while helping CHS sweep through conference action without losing a set.

Fresh off their second-straight league crown, Lodell and the Wolves advanced to state as well, the first time the Coupeville spikers had gone to the big dance in more than a decade.

Put her on a softball diamond and she was a walking, talking web gem come to life. Just replace “walking” with “sprinting from corner to corner of the outfield on a dead run.”

There were few balls which evaded her glove in four years of anchoring the defense in center, and Lodell was equally dangerous with her bat and her feet.

Multiple All-Conference honors and two runs at qualifying for the state tourney which fell just a pitch or two short, and the highlight reel never stopped running.

But as amazing as she is as an athlete, Lodell is even more impressive in the other aspects of her life.

I call her The Surgeon for two reasons.

One, she carved up opponents in the arena, and two, she will one day be carving people as a doctor.

And probably curing cancer or some disease we haven’t heard about yet, cause her brain is just that impressive.

Some of the athletes I write about I’ve known for a short period of time. Others a few years.

With Hope, I’ve known her since the day she was born, and she has remained the same joyous force of nature, the same kind, caring, high-achieving supernova, every step of her path.

She is going to blow our minds with what she accomplishes post-high school. Of that, there is no doubt.

So, today, before she starts winning all the world-wide awards, I’m slipping in to give her a local honor.

We’re swinging open the doors of the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame and welcoming Lodell to our little digital playground.

After this, you’ll find her lounging up at the top of the blog, enshrined under the Legends tab.

Take a peek inside and she’ll be easy to find. She’ll be the one doing one-arm pull-ups on the doorway to the Hall.

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Sarah Wright (front) and Katrina McGranahan have changed uniforms, but are still playing softball deep into the summer. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Softball all day, every day.

That’s pretty much life this summer for former Wolf battery-mates Katrina McGranahan and Sarah Wright.

While the diamond duo hung up their CHS uniforms after the district playoffs in mid-May, they have continued to play the game they love for another two months.

McGranahan, who graduated this year, is playing travel ball with the 18U Seattle Spice, while Wright, who will be a senior this coming school year, suits up with the 16U Snohomish County Express.

Wright is manning her usual station behind the plate as her team’s catcher, while McGranahan is resting her pitching arm and playing shortstop.

Both Coupeville standouts have spent most of their summer bouncing from tournament to tournament.

“It’s been busy!,” Wright said.

McGranahan and the Spice won a state title earlier this summer, and spent last weekend at the huge Canada Cup International Softball Championship in Surrey, BC.

The Spice rallied to win two of their final three games, with Killer Kat playing every inning in five games over three days under a blazing sun.

The summer season wraps up soon for both, with the Wolf stars and their current teammates each having one tournament left to play.

McGranahan is first up, heading to Milwaukie, Oregon July 20-22 for the Western Nationals.

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