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Posts Tagged ‘Wazzu’

Veronica Crownover, home-run hitting prairie legend. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Now a college player, Crownover (back, center) had four hits, including a long ball, as Wazzu won two of three on opening weekend. (Photo courtesy Kelly Crownover)

Different town, different uniform, same booming bat.

Coupeville High School grad Veronica Crownover made her college softball debut this weekend, and she filled the Pullman sky with the sight of a bashed ball flying far, far away.

Just the way she used to do it as a Wolf.

Crownover is now a freshman at Washington State University, and she and her teammates on the school’s club softball squad took two of three games from visiting Boise State.

The Cougars dropped the season opener Saturday, falling 11-3, then bounced back to sweep a doubleheader Sunday, winning 9-5 and 13-4.

Crownover’s bat was smokin’ in the 38-degree weather, as she peppered Bronco pitching.

After picking up her first two collegiate hits and coming around to score in Sunday’s opener, she smacked a third single to open the nightcap, then went deep.

Her two-run home run was still climbing as it cleared the center-field fence 310 feet away, while parents Darren and Kelly out-screamed the entire rest of the fan base of both teams.

Trotting home with her first college tater, Veronica Crownover, who has picked up the nickname “Bro” from her Wazzu teammates (since she uses the word as a noun, verb, and adjective in most conversations), was all smiles.

“Today was a really good day,” she said. “I can die happy.”

Along with her offensive explosion, Crownover was her usual slick-fielding presence at first base, pulling in throws no matter where they were headed.

The Cougars, who play year-round, return to action the last weekend of October, when they’ll put their 2-1 record on the line against Gonzaga.

During her time in Coupeville, Crownover earned a truck load of softball awards from her team and various leagues for her play.

Before graduating last spring, she and fellow Wolf seniors Sarah Wright and Nicole Laxton led CHS to the state tournament in Richland, where Coupeville won a game for the first time since 2002.

The Wolves held up well against eventual state champ Montesano, upset Deer Park, which had taken out the defending state champs, then came within a play of also knocking off Cle Elum.

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After four seasons of blasting dingers for Coupeville, Veronica Crownover (and her boomin’ bat) will play for the Washington State University softball team. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Good-bye, softball.

Veronica Crownover isn’t ready to retire just yet.

The 2019 Coupeville High School grad, who launched towering home-runs to all fields and made opposing pitchers cry sweet, sweet tears during her time as a prep softball slugger, has officially made the team at Washington State University.

Tryouts were this week, and the former Wolf first-baseman impressed with both her glove and bat. The Wazzu freshman is in the mix for a starting position, as well.

Washington State competes as an NCAA D-I school in 11 sports, and supplements those varsity programs with 27 club sports teams.

Softball, which has been active at WSU since 1996, is part of the club system, along with sports such as wrestling, ice hockey, bowling, cricket, rugby, and lacrosse.

The Cougar softball team is a member of the National Club Softball Association, which boasts 143 colleges.

Wazzu plays out of the Pacific – North division, which also includes club teams from the University of Oregon, Eastern Washington University, Boise State University, and Gonzaga University.

Games begin in October, and Crownover and her new teammates play in both the fall and spring.

The former Wolf will have a busy schedule, as she’s also pulling a double major, studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Sciences along with Zoology, while being on a pre-vet track.

While that makes for a lot of class time, mixed with life on the diamond, it’s something Crownover has handled before.

She graduated twice this spring, earning degrees from both CHS and Skagit Valley College.

Her softball roots go back to little league, when she and future high school teammates like Sarah Wright, who will play for Sewanee: The University of the South this year, tore up the diamond.

Once she hit high school, Crownover made an immediate impact, earning All-League honors as a freshman, then adding enough awards over the next three years to build her own shrine.

She was a nimble defensive player at first base, providing a soft mitt for her fellow infielders to aim for, while pulling in just about any throw which came within 10 feet of her.

But it was Crownover’s bat, “Thunder,” which made her reputation.

The sultan of swat carved up pitcher after pitcher, from future D1 hurlers like Klahowya’s Amber Bumbalough and South Whidbey’s Mackenzee Collins, to the best playoff rivals could throw her way.

She crashed a home run deep over a very tall left-field fence at Oak Harbor to stun Coupeville’s big-city rivals, hurt South Whidbey so badly, so often that the Falcons intentionally walked her multiple times in one game, and played her best in the spotlight.

Crownover and Wright, along with fellow senior Nicole Laxton, led the Wolves to the state tourney this spring, where they won for the first time since 2002.

That victory came against Deer Park, a juggernaut which had upended the defending state champs, and CHS also came within a play of knocking off Cle Elum at the big dance.

Playing three games in one day at the state tourney in Richland (the Wolves also tangled with eventual state champ Montesano), Crownover went out in style, swinging for the fences and freakin’ out rival pitchers.

Now, she gets to go out and do it all again, just in a different uniform.

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In her final home game, four-year varsity vet Lindsey Roberts torched Sultan for 16 points in a Coupeville playoff win. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The end of the road is always there, and no one can avoid it forever.

When the Coupeville High School girls basketball squad was eliminated from the playoffs Thursday, it capped the prep hoops career for three Wolf seniors.

And while Ema Smith and Nicole Laxton played with pride, hustle, and grit, always, honoring themselves and their program, it’s hard to argue the third departing player won’t leave the biggest hole.

Lindsey Roberts was that rare player who played varsity basketball, and never as a bench-warmer, from day one to her finale.

She was a key contributor as a freshman on a team which went to state, led Coupeville in scoring as both a junior and senior, and helped the Wolves win two league titles and narrowly miss out on a third.

It’s easy to spotlight points, since that’s the most concrete stat we have, and, hey, the team who scores most wins the game.

In that respect, Roberts goes down as one of the greats, finishing with 448 points, tied with Vanessa Davis for #18 on the CHS girls career scoring chart.

One less injury here, a few more playoff games there, and she might have been the 14th Wolf girl to crack 500 points.

But I think the fact she didn’t reach 500 almost marks Roberts as a better player.

She was always willing to do whatever was necessary for team success, and fit her game to mesh with those around her.

Need her to rebound? To defend?

To sprint the floor and haul in full-court baseball passes from Sarah Wright?

To look for her teammates with crisp, effective feeds?

She was your go-to girl.

Lou played a complete game, always, and her points were a bonus.

While she could be your give-me-the-ball Michael Jordan, which she showed in several big-time performances including this year’s home playoff game against Sultan, she was also willing to be Scottie Pippen.

That is a rare quality, and one which truly marks Roberts as one of the best Wolves hoops fans have witnessed.

A young Roberts welcomes teammate Lauren Grove to the floor for a game in which a win sent the Wolves to state.

Her freshman year, she ran the floor with senior Makana Stone, who was wrapping up a career in which she scored 1,158 points, third-most in school history.

After that, Roberts shared the ball with gunners like Kailey Kellner (#30 all-time on the girls scoring chart), Mia Littlejohn (#35), Ema Smith (#48), and Mikayla Elfrank (#49).

A lot of their buckets? Set up by Roberts crashing the boards, hustling down floor to create mismatches for the defense, and looking for an open teammate to feed when her own shot wasn’t there.

The Wolf teams Roberts played for achieved success in great part because she was a rock.

She didn’t scream or holler, at least that I could ever see from my perch in the stands, but she had an air about her which made other players gravitate to her side.

Perhaps it’s because she learned while shadowing Stone, the most serene superstar I have ever written about.

Roberts was remarkably similar to her close friend, leading by example, NEVER showing up her teammates, always embracing them.

Lou being Lou.

I’ve known Lindsey’s extended family for a very long time, even working with her aunt, Stephanie, for many years at Videoville, and have seen Lou grow from a precocious young child into a confident young woman, on and off the court.

That being said, I probably have exchanged a mere handful of words with her over the years.

I already feel like I’m invading the lives of the teenage athletes I cover just by writing about them all the time, and hesitate to infringe more than that.

But there are times when you want to say something a little more, and, since I struggle with social interaction, using writing is much easier.

There’s still much more ahead for Roberts.

Track season, should better weather ever arrive, is where Lindsey truly dominates.

After that comes college (she’s Wazzu-bound, cause she’s too smart to waste time at U-Dub) and what will likely be many, many years of success in the real world.

High school sports, while they have been important to her, are just a small stepping stone as Roberts conquers the world.

But, as she moves forward from one well-earned highlight to another, I just want to say thanks.

Basketball is my favorite sport, so while Roberts has also stood tall in soccer and wowed the crowds in track, her hoops exploits have always been the first to catch my attention.

From a chipper freshman to a seasoned senior, she wore her uniform with pride, honoring her family, her school, her town, and most of all, herself.

Others with deeper knowledge of the intricacies of the sport can break down for you how Roberts, and her game, truly compares to other Wolf greats.

But, while many writers settle for facts, I have based my entire scribbling career more on emotion.

Write the legend, build the myth, celebrate the extraordinary.

Even as I am almost completely sure she would roll her eyes at being told in person she was extraordinary, that’s what Roberts has been every step of the way during her hoops career.

I hope she enjoyed her four years on the floor as much as those of us who watched her play did.

Players come and go, and a few, a very few, burn brightly enough where we can honestly say they won’t be forgotten.

Lou is forever.

Off to state! Roberts was the last active player from this 2016 photo.

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   Luke Pelant (left), hangs out with coach Paul Mendes during the 2013 CHS boys soccer awards banquet. (Photo by Robert Pelant)

One by one, the former Wolves return.

Luke Pelant is the latest Coupeville High School grad to return to his alma mater, only this time as a coach and not a player.

He is joining the boys soccer team as an assistant coach to Kyle Nelson, in a move which will be official when the School Board gives its approval.

Pelant had an illustrious soccer career at CHS, capped by a senior season in 2013, when he was a captain, was named the team’s MVP and was tabbed as an All-League player by Cascade Conference coaches.

He also received the US Army Reserve National Scholar/Athlete Award that year.

After high school, Pelant attended Washington State University, where he studied marketing.

During his time as a Wolf, he played for legendary soccer coach Paul Mendes, an international pitch star who capped his career in Coupeville.

A leader during his time on the field for the Wolves, Pelant is looking forward to helping shape a new generation of players.

“I just love the game so much,” he said. “I want to be around it more and hopefully bring more players to love it as much as I do.”

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Samantha Shulock (John Fisken photo)

   OHHS grad Samantha Shulock has been hired as an assistant girls soccer coach at Coupeville High School. (John Fisken photo)

Coupeville High School’s newest soccer coach vividly remembers what it was like to be a player.

“I still have the players perspective fresh in my mind and can make that connection between coach and player,” said Samantha Shulock.

The 2008 Oak Harbor grad, who went on to play college ball after high school, has joined Troy Cowan’s staff as an assistant this year.

She replaces Nicholas Dziminowicz, who departed after a year in the position to focus full-time on his work with premier teams through Northwest United.

Shulock, who made her Wolf debut Thursday during a four-team jamboree on her old field at Oak Harbor’s Wildcat Memorial Stadium, played for 15 years.

After hanging up the purple and gold at OHHS, she went on to play two years at Skagit Valley College, then wrapped her career with a stint on the women’s club soccer team at Washington State University.

Back on Whidbey, she couldn’t resist the siren call of the pitch.

“I recently moved to Coupeville and saw this as the best opportunity to stay involved in soccer,” Shulock said. “Overall I’m here for the girls.

“My goal is they feel like they played the best season they could have and continue to learn about the game.”

She’ll work with the players on both sides of the ball, though says “defense has always been my comfort zone.”

One lesson she’ll try and pass on is how important it is for each Wolf to rely on the player next to them.

“This is a team sport; support is key,” Shulock said. “Any game is meant to be fun and if you want to take it to the next level you need to make sure it makes you happy every time you step onto the field with your teammates.”

As the Wolves prep for their regular-season opener (Sept. 8 at home vs. South Whidbey), their newest coach is counting down the days.

“I’m excited to be a part of it,” Shulock said. “I see myself in a lot of the girls and hope I’m a positive influence on each one.

“I’m coming in completely from the outside with no ties to this community,” she added. “My best wishes are always with the girls and their families and that every soccer experience is a positive one.”

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