The 2012 Redmond High fastpitch season will be a test of quality over quantity.
For reasons unknown to third-year head coach Parris Mamon, only 11 girls tried out for the team this year, but nearly all of them are returners with previous varsity experience.
“Every year I’ve been here I’ve noticed the numbers have kind of gone down a bit,” noted Mamon, adding that next season, ninth-graders will be eligible to play with the new grade configurations. “I think we’re going to be okay.”
Despite the low numbers, the Mustangs this year will feature one of the most powerful lineups the program has seen in quite some time – one that has already belted five home runs in just a jamboree and one regulation game.
“We don’t have the numbers, but we have the skills,” said senior utility Louise Chouinard. “All our batters, one through nine, are all strong and are going to hit well.”
Chouinard will be one of three senior catalysts for the team, the others being third-year starting pitcher Melissa White and shortstop Ashley Mitchell, who has blazing speed and is one of the top players in the league.
Mamon, who was an assistant coach with the Kentridge Chargers when they won the school’s first 4A fastpitch title in 2002, added that seniors Ashley Walls and Blake Gransee will also be key contributors, as will junior Natalie Roberts.
“She also pitches, and she’s been getting a lot of time in the circle to help keep Melissa fresh,” Mamon said of Roberts, who is also listed as an outfielder. “She’s pretty capable as well.”
BATTLING THE INJURY BUG
With a squad that barely has the minimum number of players to field a team, the Mustangs’ key to success this year will be to avoid injuries, something the team has already had to deal with.
Sophomore pitcher Emily Rockhill, who has excellent movement on her pitches and a solid glove, went down with stress fracture in her back during the preseason and will be out for the year.
“That was kind of a heartbreak,” admitted Mamon. “The injury bug is going to hurt. Losing Emily was painful, but we picked up a couple other kids so we’re still at 11 (players).”
As the team prepares to start league play next week, they’ve only had a handful of outdoor practices due to the nasty weather earlier this month.
But that hasn’t changed how the Mustangs’ plan of attack this season.
“We’re getting the work done inside,” Mamon said. “They’re conditioned well, they’re seeing the ball, but it’d be nice to get them (outside).”
The players themselves, for the most part, have been playing together for many years, some since little league. They’d like nothing better than to go out blazing into the sunset with a deep postseason run.
“(Our group) has good chemistry together,” said Mitchell. “We’ve played together for a long time, and that really helps.”
Added Chouinard, “As long as we don’t have any injuries, we’re going to be great.”