Special group of seniors savor end of prep careers

  • Written by Derek Johnson

Few teams try for best ever, and these Falcons are one of those. I think back to something first baseman Olivia Riener said at the start of this season. “Every one of us seniors is a type-A personality,” Riener said. “But we get along incredibly well and our team has won a lot of games.”

DSC 9369Lauryn Rhinehart (left) fires a throw to shortstop Paige Grover (center) while pitcher Olivia Riener looks on. (Photo by Derek Johnson)The 2017 season has done nothing to diminish Riener’s statement. The Woodinville Falcons finished the regular season with a perfect 20-0 record. They’re currently ranked #8 in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings. And the Lady Falcons will enter this week’s KingCo 4A tourney as the #1 seed.

“This group of seniors has been super tight,” Woodinville coach Dani Weir said. “They’re the reason we’ve had success because they’ve been such a rock and have such passion for the game. They’re so competitive. And they really enjoy each moment when they can recognize and live in the present. I want them to feel every pitch, every moment of this season.”

Along with Riener, the seniors are Paige Grover, Jordyn Boyd, Gina Wyner and the Rhinehart twins, Lauryn and Taylor. They’ve been to State three years in a row, with 2nd, 3rd and 5th place finishes to their credit. They have one more chance to win it all.

DSC 9396Taylor Rhinehart hits a home run against Issaquah on May 10th. (Photo by Derek Johnson) Weir was asked for a favorite memory she’ll have of these seniors. As she began to speak, her voice cracked with emotion and she paused.

“It’s the moments right before practice when you can sit back and just watch them be,” Weir said. “And how natural the chemistry is between them. I’m getting a little soft, but it makes you grateful as a coach that you don’t have to work that hard to get that chemistry. These girls choose to be with each other, on-and-off the field. So to see the banter and camaraderie [is great] and it’s just letting them do what they do.”

Pitcher and outfielder Lauryn Rhinehart smiled when asked to reflect. 

“I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about it almost being over,” Rhinehart said. “I think really what is going through my head is how well everything is flowing [with the team right now]. It has been a super fun season with all these girls and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

But what about a favorite memory?

“Probably after practice, hanging out at the cars in the parking lot,” Rhinehart said. “We don’t have to be there but we choose to be. We’ll be talking for two hours and the lights all shut off and we’re still there talking.”

“We love to talk with each other,” Olivia Riener said. “My favorite memory is the team dinners where we’re done eating in ten minutes but then we sit and talk for two hours.”

For shortstop Paige Grover, her favorite times revolve around the annual drive to Spokane when the Falcons play in the State tourney.

“It’s five hours and normally that kind of drive would be miserable,” Grover said. “Even though we’re there for a long time it’s not miserable because we’re there with each other and we’re never bored.”

Grover was pressed for a favorite detail from the bus trips. When she mentioned that assistant coach Mike Dale always brings egg rolls, several Falcon players burst into laughter. So coach Weir was asked to fill in the details. 
“Mike’s wife always brings egg rolls,” Weir said with a laugh. “He’s really excited to bring them and the girls are happy to have them. But for me, they stink up the entire bus and I can’t wait to get rid of them.”


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