Redmond High teacher and alumnus Mike Pluschke will step onto the diamond as the Mustangs’ new fastpitch softball head coach this season.
The skipper will coach his first game against Rogers of Puyallup at 5:30 p.m. March 18 at Hartman Park.
“My kids have played through the Redmond West Little League program growing up so I know these ladies and want to help them execute their goals, deal with adversity and learn lifelong lessons,” said Pluschke, who teaches physical education at RHS, graduated from the school in 1990 and formerly coached the Mustang varsity football squad, the boys varsity track team and was a varsity boys and girls basketball assistant.
Pluschke takes over the reins from Allison Mitchell, who was a head coach and assistant for the program for seven years and left the Mustangs last December for a head-coaching job at Central Washington University. She was the head coach at RHS since 2016. Last season, the Mustangs finished 26-3 and tied for third at the 4A state tournament.
In the fastpitch realm, Pluschke has coached Elite Diamonds travel team first-year 12s through second-year 16s for the last six years, notching just under 300 wins along the way.
“Even better than the wins, in the rogue world of travel sports we managed to keep the nucleus intact with the same girls for six years,” he said of his Redmond Elite Diamonds squads.
Pluschke inherits seven starters from last year’s Mustang squad: senior Jennifer Cummings at catcher, senior Audrey Walker at third base, senior Kaia Bradford in right field, senior Camille Eaton at shortstop/second base, junior Peri Hocevar in the infield/outfield, sophomore Grace Haegele at pitcher/first base and sophomore Ella Claus in the outfield. Haegele and sophomore Elliotte Wood will mostly likely handle pitching duties.
College signees are Cummings at the University of Washington, Walker at North Idaho College and Bradford at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.
The four senior leaders are four-year starters with heaps of playoff experience and a 3A state championship in 2017.
“With the sophomores and juniors getting valuable time last season, look for the Mustangs to be as competitive as ever,” the coach said. “We will see where this leadership takes us this season. Expectations with Redmond softball are always high.”
Positivity reigns supreme with Pluschke, who aims to inspire players to be themselves while working as a team and always being competitive to reap success, and also being able to deal with adversity.
“Our standards are high but our belief in ourselves is higher,” he said.