After finishing third last year at State, the Woodinville Falcons were sad to see some beloved seniors move on. These included KingCo 4A MVP Alyssa O’Farrell, Seattle Times All-Star Nicole Shavlik and second baseman Alena Jones.
This year’s Woodinville club only has one senior. But the younger players are so talented, confident and experienced, there’s no reason they can’t contend for the KingCo crown.
“I know we lost strong contributors from last year,” Woodinville coach Dani Weir said. “But I know we could fill the void with our underclassmen considering all the experience and success they got last year.
“We only have one senior, Katie Kelly, and she has done an outstanding job of taking the reins,” Weir said. “But she has gotten a lot of help from those who have been here a couple of years. That’s why it’s been great that we’ve had freshmen on varsity to help our future.”
A solid core will serve as the heart and soul of this year’s club.
“Our pitching will be strong,” Weir said. “We’ve got Lauryn Rhinehart, Olivia Riener and Taylor Rhinehart. Skylar Hein has recovered from a summer injury. She will spend a lot of time behind the plate and will be our big bopper. Paige Grover will lock down the outfield for us. Her bat has come a long ways as well so she will contribute there. Gina Wyner and Jordan Boyd are all-around athletes we can put anywhere and they will get the job done.”
The Falcons will feature four freshmen on this year’s team, including the younger sisters of former third baseman Sarah Taketa, who played at Woodinville from 2011-13. She now plays for Chapman College.
“We have another set of twins, Megan and Molly Taketa,” Weir said. “I see them making an immediate impact.
Mikaelie Sullivan and Bailey Burger-Moore are very athletic and will learn and grow a lot this year. They both have very strong bats. I want them to be around the older girls a lot more and gain experience and get comfortable in the varsity atmosphere.
“Overall we have a well-rounded lineup.”
Woodinville’s season begins on March 12 with a jamboree, and officially gets under way March 14 in a game at Todd Beamer High School.
How does Weir see KingCo 4A?
“KingCo always seems to be tough,” she said. “The teams with great athletes coming back include Inglemoor, who has Sophia Swain, who is a really strong athlete. A pitcher named Mackenzie Dekay, who is really good. And they will be coming after us after we beat them in the [KingCo 4A] championship.
“Redmond has some new freshmen who have come in and will help on the pitching side of things,” she said. “Kai Gibson is always a threat, she’s finally a senior this year, thank goodness. Redmond always finds a way, they’re super scrappy. And they have coaches that will always keep the dream alive.”