Many people wondered what would become of Woodinville fastpitch after star pitcher Madi Schreyer graduated last June and headed for Stanford.
As last Monday’s 10-0 win over Newport can attest, they’re doing just fine, thank you very much. As of this writing, the Lady Falcons are 4-1 in KingCo and 9-1 overall.
One of those tasked with filling Schreyer’s shoes is freshman Lauryn Rhinehart. The youngster got the start against Newport and the victory, tossing five innings of shutout ball, surrendering just two hits while striking out six.
“My comfort level is pretty high,” Rhinehart said. “There has been so much support. Everyone has been super nice about everything. Everyone played really well today. It was nice getting runs in the first inning to keep my confidence up when I’m pitching. It’s much easier.”
Offensively, the Lady Falcons amassed a 10-run lead by the top of the fifth inning, which invoked the so-called “mercy rule.” This was largely thanks to their six-run barrage in the bottom of the first. Leading the way were Kathryn Hatlen’s three RBIs, Alyssa O’Farrell’s two doubles and two RBIs, and third baseman Sarah Taketa’s line drive triple that drove in a run.
“From my previous two at bats I knew I needed to make an adjustment,” Taketa said. “The pitcher was throwing a lot of first pitch strikes so I went up there to take a big hack. That happened and I got a triple. I was happy with it.”
The fact that Taketa is playing at all is its own feel-good story.
“Sarah has the heart of a lion,” Woodinville manager Dani Weir said. “She came to me in November and said she had a stress fracture in her back and couldn’t do any physical activity for three months. Her goal was to be back for the first KingCo game. It’s been a slow process since then and she didn’t get her first start until last week against Inglemoor.
“She’s been slowly working her way back into the lineup. What you saw tonight was her heart and how much she wants to be out here with this group of girls. It’s like the old saying: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I kind of related with her on that, when you’re forced to be out of the game not of your own accord, it makes you want to get out there that much more. It makes you hungry and makes you love it. I think she learned that about herself. She’s a fighter.”
This coming week, Woodinville will need all the fight it can get, with three huge games on the docket. Road battles against Bothell and Issaquah kick things off before concluding April 25th with a home game against Redmond.
But this year’s Falcon Express is pitching well, scoring runs in bunches, and barreling toward the post-season brimming with confidence.
“That’s the way it’s got to be in female sports,” Weir said. “In all sports, but especially female sports, you’ve got to feel good to play good. If you’re not getting along with your teammates then your performance is going to suffer. But these girls are a cohesive unit and they’re getting stronger and stronger every day.”