Softball preps for doubleheaders
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The Wildcat softball team will begin their GNAC title defense with back-to-back doubleheaders Friday and Saturday against Northwest Nazarene in Selah. The Wildcats are unable to open their season at home as planned, due to the current t snow on the fields.
“We haven’t practiced on our field yet,” said head coach Mike Larabee. “We’ve been inside for two and half months.”
Larabee began coaching the Wildcats last season. In his debut season, Larabee coached the women to a GNAC Championship win and a 42-17 overall record after being picked as the fifth-place finisher by the coaches.
This season ,things are starting out much different for the Lady Cats. In a preseason GNAC coaches’ poll, CWU softball was selected by six of eight coaches as the top contender for the GNAC Championship this year.
“We’ve got a bullseyes on our backs now,” Larabee said. “Every team is going to bring their A-game against us and we’ve got to be ready to go out and compete.”
The Wildcats’ roster experienced some major changes during the offseason, including the loss of graduating seniors shortstop Andrea Hamada and pitcher Brielle Copodonna.
“We lost some good players last year,” Larabee said. “But we’ve got some younger kids that are playing really well and filling their shoes.”
During the offseason, the Wildcats signed multiple new players including freshman Julia Reuble, who spoke about feeling the pressure of living up to the high expectations of the Wildcats by the rest of the league.
“I feel [the pressure], but I try to stay relaxed,” Reuble said. “Coach Larabee is an amazing coach, everything that we’re learning is helpful.”
Despite the changes and an all-around tougher GNAC this season, coach Larabee feels the team has a fighting chance to repeat their run to the championship this season.
“I think anybody can beat anybody on any given day,” Larabee said.
While there is still a big picture in mind, the Wildcats’ main focus has been on themselves and preparing to face their first GNAC opponent of the season.
“We never talk much about our opponent,” Larabee said. “We’ve got enough talent on our team that if we come out and play at a high level and play to our ability level, we’re going to be in good shape.”
Returning to the Wildcats this year is last year’s GNAC pitcher of the year, Kiana Wood. The senior from Aloha, Oregon started in 31 games last season, amassing 21 wins and 75 strikeouts.
Sophomore Kayla Smith has faced NNU multiple times in her career, both at the college level and on select teams in high school. She knows not to take the game against the GNAC coaches’ seventh pick lightly.
“All-around they’re a really good team,” Smith said. “I know they have new pitchers we haven’t faced yet.”
The Wildcats will play NNU four times March 10-11 in Selah with games Friday at Noon and 2:00pm, and Saturday at Noon and 2:00pm.
The Wildcats’ next home games will be March 25 versus Western Oregon and March 26 versus Concordia, weather permitting.