The Washington Warriors are dialing up the intensity coming into the 2019 season after their State runners-up finish to Sequoyah-Talehquah last season.
One of the reasons for the added voltage is a high level of competition for starting positions.
“It’s as competitive as it’s been in this program in a long time,” Washington Head Coach Jace Brewer said. “Kids will be fighting for playing time and if they can handle the intra-squads and practice they’ll set themselves up well for games.”
The Warriors return starters Hope Madden, Emma Curry, Kaydence Andrews and Mattie Richardson.
Madden is slated for first base and Curry will get a shot at the infield after playing in the outfield last season, according to the coach.
Andrews will see work at shortstop and third base and Richardson will roam the outfield again after earning the starting job in left field at the end of last season.
“Mattie is one of the best outfielders I’ve had,” Brewer said. “We’ll have five or six kids who will compete for a spot in the outfield.”
This season Washington will have to replace five departing seniors in Brooke Logan, Baylee Morris, Jill Blair, Jillian Willige and Raylee Pogue. All five were starters on last year’s team.
The Warriors return starting pitcher Katelyn Hicks. They’ll have two freshmen along with Hicks on a staff that will offer three distinct looks for opposing batters.
“The two freshmen pitch totally opposite of each other,” Brewer said. “One is a flame thrower who throws in the 60s (Ellie Loveless) and the other one can spin it (Maggie Place). The pitchers complement each other well. We’re not as comparable as we were last year and different kids can be put in to bring a whole new pitching arsenal to the game. It’s kind of a fresh look we haven’t had in this program in a while.”
For the rest of the defense the coach said it will be a process to find players for the right spots.
“This isn’t travel ball and sometimes players will have to sacrifice,” he said. “You never know what 10 we’ll end up with that will help us make a run and play for something big. We want to put the right 10 out there. We’ll be looking for that right lineup by October.”
Brewer said his players will push each other as they compete for playing time.
“We have a lot of options and a bunch of good kids that will push other kids and we’ll see who will push their friends,” he said.
Offensively Washington will build their lineup around Curry and Madden in the three and four holes.
Andrews and Isa Portillo will have opportunities at leadoff and Richardson brought speed to the nine hole last season.
“We really need the five through seven holes filled in” Brewer said. “We’ll protect three and four with five through seven but we’ll have to develop it. We will take some lumps early offensively because kids will take at bats to get there but we’ll find who fits. We have the potential to be really good but we’ll have to be patient early.”
Washington played three scrimmages Monday, against Dickson, Pauls Valley and Byng.
“Scrimmages are funny because we try to see certain things when we are in them but a real softball game broke out against Byng,” Brewer said. “We’ve had a good start to the season so far.”
Washington opens the season with Tuttle on Monday.