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Posts Tagged ‘Whidbey Island Inferno’

Jada Heaton (left) and Mia Farris, ready to rock the softball diamond. (Jennifer Heaton photo)

“I have a great group of friends I play softball with. Every year we strive to be better.”

That’s working out quite nicely for Jada Heaton, as she and her playing companions have done exactly that — get progressively stronger and more-talented with each season.

The group has piled up wins, captured district titles, and made runs at the state tourney as little leaguers, capped by a recent fourth-place finish at the big dance in Vancouver while playing as the Whidbey Island All-Star juniors squad.

Along the way, a quick scan of photos shows Heaton almost always wearing a huge smile while in action, whether spraying hits at the plate or chasing down long bombs to the outfield.

“Get back here, you!” Heaton pulls off a Willie Mays-style catch near the outfield wall. (Jackie Saia photo)

The young star on the rise derives a great deal of joy from her time on the field, and her time spent with a close-knit group of friends.

“Softball is my favorite, because I’ve been playing since I was little,” Heaton said. “I like playing sports with my friends as a team. Win or lose. Trying to always get better.”

Now, with her little league days having come to an end after big wins at the state tourney over teams from Puyallup and Mukilteo, she’s on the path to beginning a new career as an athlete.

Heaton will be a freshman at Coupeville High School in the fall, and plans to play volleyball, basketball, and softball for the Wolves.

“I’m excited to play them all in high school,” she said. “I want to keep getting better; hopefully letter in all three of those sports.”

“Hand me my bat, ladies. Mama has to go wreck some fools!” (Jackie Saia photo)

Athletics keep Heaton hopping — “Not much time for anything besides sports,” she said with a laugh — but she did have a great time in one particular class.

“I enjoyed working on the middle school yearbook,” she said. “Hoping I will be on the yearbook staff for high school.”

In everything she does, Heaton leans on those close to her for positive reinforcement.

“My family is always supporting me,” she said. “I (also) have an amazing group of friends.

“Most of us have been together since preschool,” Heaton added. “I am thankful for their friendship.”

Regardless of which of her sports she’s playing at a given moment, she always tries to approach things with a can-do outlook.

“One of my strengths as an athlete would be my attitude,” Heaton said. “I try hard to encourage my teammates.

“I also listen to my coaches good and bad. Learn from what they are telling me,” she added. “I will work 110% and not give up. Working hard, but also having fun doing it.”

The happy warrior. (Corinn Parker photo)

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Taylor Brotemarkle, who will be a freshman at Coupeville High School in the fall, is a high-achiever with a bright future. (Jackie Saia photo)

Taylor Brotemarkle has big dreams.

The Coupeville High School freshman-to-be is coming off a very-successful trip to the state tourney with the Whidbey Island All-Star juniors softball team.

Brotemarkle and her squad, which included seven girls each from Coupeville and Oak Harbor, rolled to a district title, then split four games at the big dance, finishing fourth out of eight teams.

As the Inferno eliminated teams from Puyallup and Mukilteo, a key player, on both offense and defense, was their go-go sparkplug.

A three-sport athlete who loves the animated super hero film Incredibles 2, hanging out with her pack of close friends, and attending language arts class, she’s part of a very-promising group from the CHS Class of 2025.

Now, as Brotemarkle gets ready for the next stage of her school days, she has a bold plan in place for her high school athletic career.

“(I want) to win a state title for softball,” she said.

“I dare you to throw that ball, sister!” (Jackie Saia photo)

Don’t doubt her commitment to the cause, as Brotemarkle has already shown a strong work ethic, and a high desire to achieve.

The young star, who delights in “the memories I get to make, and the competitiveness” of being an athlete, hails a future teammate and a current coach with a close personal connection for their help along the way.

“My friend Bella (Whalen) has helped me grow so much as an athlete, as well as my mom, (Kimberly), who is one of my softball coaches,” Brotemarkle said.

Mom and daughter celebrate winning a district softball title in 2019. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

After playing volleyball, basketball, and softball through middle school, she plans to “definitely stick with softball as well as volleyball” in high school.

While she enjoys, and excels, in all of her activities, Brotemarkle would choose diamond life as her #1 path.

“Softball (is my favorite), because I have one of the most amazing groups of girls for a team,” she said. “And they make it so much fun, and we have made such great memories.”

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Adyson Morales digs in at the state tourney. (Jackie Saia photos)

They fought to the last swing, and the last click of the camera.

The Whidbey Island All-Star juniors softball squad claimed a district title, then finished fourth at state despite missing key players with injury and illness.

Along the way, team mom Jackie Saia (whose daughter, Teagan Calkins, was on fire at the plate) snapped away, and the pics above and below are courtesy her.

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Adyson Morales and her team had a very-successful postseason run. (Jackie Saia photos)

The run is done.

A four-games-in-four-days odyssey at the state tournament in Vancouver reached its end Tuesday night for the Whidbey Island All-Star juniors softball squad.

Playing without sluggers Savina Wells (illness) and Loto Tupu (injury), the Inferno fell 12-1 to North Kitsap, finishing fourth in an eight-team field.

With the victory, Kitsap advances to face Camas Wednesday night, with the victor squaring off with undefeated Kirkland in the championship round.

Thanks to a 16-0 victory over Camas in the early game Tuesday, Kirkland only needs one more win to claim the state title.

The Kitsap/Camas winner will have to beat Kirkland twice Thursday to come out on top.

Whidbey, which boasts a 14-player roster, with seven girls each from Coupeville and Oak Harbor, went 4-2 after being assembled.

The Inferno swept two games to win the District 11 title, then went 2-2 at state.

After losing a one-run thriller to Camas in its opener Saturday, Whidbey bounced back to eliminate teams from Puyallup and Mukilteo.

And, for a brief moment, it looked like the winning streak might continue.

Inferno hurler Adyson Morales went through Kitsap like a buzz saw in the top of the first inning, setting down their first three hitters in order.

The pride of Oak Harbor did so with a little help from her Coupeville infielders.

The leadoff hitter popped out to Katie Marti at second base, before Madison McMillan made back-to-back strong throws on grounders to third, each rocket landing softly in the waiting glove of Mia Farris.

Mia Farris, an accomplished player with her bat and glove.

Whidbey promptly plopped the game’s first run on the board in the bottom half of the frame, with Haylee Burleigh walking and coming around to score when Kitsap bobbled a hot shot off the bat of Teagan Calkins.

Unfortunately for the Inferno, that was pretty much the moment its offense came to a screeching halt.

The next nine Whidbey hitters went down in order, a cruel streak not broken until McMillan rocketed a one-out single off a Kitsap glove in the bottom of the fourth.

But, before the Inferno could celebrate the moment, Kitsap turned an inning-ending double play, turning a well-hit ball by Morales into a wham-bam twin killing.

Jada Heaton earned much hootin’ and hollerin’ from her teammates when she got drilled by a wayward pitch in the bottom of the fifth, but that was it for Whidbey’s offense.

With just two hits and two walks, life was going to be difficult for the Inferno, and Kitsap kept chip, chip, chippin’ away.

Two runs in the top of the second gave Whidbey’s rivals a lead they wouldn’t lose, then four more tallies in both the third and fourth stretched the lead out.

While Kitsap spent a fair amount of time putting the ball where the Whidbey defenders weren’t, the Inferno did make several strong defensive plays.

McMillan played the hot corner with panache, while catcher Lilly Norman gunned down a would-be base thief, connecting with Burleigh, who slapped on the tag.

While the final result wasn’t another win, Whidbey coach Fred Farris still left the field extremely proud of what his team accomplished.

Drawing players from a much-smaller area than most of their opponents, the Inferno clicked quickly and put together a stirring highlight reel over their run.

“Never been prouder of a group,” Farris said. “Been my honor.”

Most of the Inferno players move on to high school ball after this, with bright futures at the next level.

The team featured Coupeville stars McMillan, Heaton, Mia Farris, Taylor Brotemarkle, Wells, Marti, and Calkins.

Joining them were Oak Harbor diamond queens Tupu, Ramona Ryder, Burleigh, Norman, Morales, Payton Ludemann, and Layla Suto.

One team, one dream.

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Softball sluggers Savina Wells (left) and Madison McMillan combined for seven hits Monday at the state tournament. (Katy Wells photo)

On to day four!

Winning an elimination game for the second day in a row, the Whidbey Island All-Star juniors softball team thumped Mukilteo 16-5 Monday at the state tournament in Vancouver.

A royal rumble which began with eight teams now has just four left, and another will fall Tuesday.

That will come when Whidbey faces North Kitsap at 8 PM in a battle of squads which are 2-1 at the big dance.

Earlier in the evening Tuesday, Camas (2-0) and Kirkland (2-0) will play, with the victor advancing to the championship round, which goes down Thursday.

The Whidbey/North Kitsap winner goes toe-to-toe Wednesday with the Camas/Kirkland loser, with the winner of that one needing to win twice Thursday to claim a state title.

Monday’s showdown was expected to be a barn burner, with Mukilteo among the favorites entering the tourney.

Instead, Whidbey, even playing without injured slugger Loto Tupu, came out firing and never gave their foes a chance.

The Inferno exploded for five quick runs in the top of the first, added another score in the second, then broke things open.

A six-run fourth inning included a massive three-run home run from Coupeville’s Katie Marti, while four more runs in the fifth sealed the deal.

Well, almost, as Mukilteo made Whidbey work for it, pushing five runs across in the bottom of the fifth before falling a run shy of preventing the 10-run mercy rule from being enacted.

The game ended on a foul ball which soared behind the plate, then nestled soft and safe into the waiting mitt of Whidbey catcher Teagan Calkins.

The Inferno offense came alive under the lights, with Haylee Burleigh lighting the fuse all night.

Haylee Burleigh was dynamic, collecting four hits and playing inspired defense at shortstop. (Jackie Saia photo)

The Oak Harbor slugger got the first hit in all four innings in which Whidbey scored, spraying three singles to go with a resounding triple to right field in the top of the second.

In the first, Whidbey made sure Mukilteo knew what was up, with its first five hitters delivering base-knocks to rattle the rival hurler.

Burleigh slapped a single to right, followed by singles from Lilly Norman and Calkins, then the big guns started firing.

A day after crushing an out-of-the-park home run, mighty masher Madison McMillan cranked a triple to left field, with Savina Wells following her blast with a double to deep center.

A few batters down the lineup, Taylor Brotemarkle smoked an RBI single of her own, and the rout was on.

Up 6-0 heading into the fourth, the Inferno bunched together another batch of hits, with everyone in the lineup getting in on the fun.

Burleigh (yep, her again) singled, Jada Heaton walloped a double, Calkins and McMillan poked singles, and then it was time for Marti to get medieval on the softball.

Katie Marti can kill you with her bat or her glove. (Jackie Saia photo)

Flexing like grandpa Paul Messner used to do right before he ran wild on the football field in the ’60s (or so I’ve been told), the prairie powerhouse jumped on a ball, sending a screaming liner to far-away right field.

Churning her legs as fast as they would go, Marti never broke stride, barreling around the bags as two teammates tapped home ahead of her, applying the punctuation mark to the Inferno assault.

Still flushed with pride, Breeanna Messner’s cousin was honored after the game for hitting the first “legit inside the park home run” of the tourney.

And that could have been it, but these bats don’t take many breaks.

Whidbey added another four runs from there, with Burleigh (she’s back, baby!), Calkins, Adyson Morales, and Payton Ludemann all crunching key base-knocks.

With a generous scorebook keeper, the Inferno racked up an eye-popping 24 hits, with Wells and Burleigh leading the way with four apiece.

Calkins (3), McMillan (3), Marti (2), Layla Suto (2), Morales (2), Norman (1), Ludemann (1), Heaton (1), and Brotemarkle (1) all joined the hit parade, while Mia Farris provided the intangibles for a Whidbey squad which continues to fly high.

Wells was “lights out” in the pitcher’s circle, while her backing crew was primed for success.

“Defense was awesome,” said Inferno coach Fred Farris. “Haylee (Burleigh) is the real deal at shortstop!!”

Ludemann made “a great catch in right field,” while Calkins “played perfect in center then (at) catcher.”

Every girl on the roster had an impact, even those who are battling injuries.

Lilly was a warrior again with the sore ankle,” Fred Farris said. “And Loto was in the dugout in her walking boot keeping them fired up!”

Coach Kimberly Brotemarkle and Teagan Calkins celebrate good times. (Jackie Saia photo)

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