WHS softball: Tourney heartbreak leads to changing of the guard

  • Written by Derek Johnson Sports Writer

Softball photoPhoto by Mark Hatlen Woodinville players mug for the camera following their fourth place finish in the 2013 4A State Tourney.When Woodinville’s season ended, it did so like a door slamming. As star pitcher Madi Schreyer delivered her final pitch as a Falcon, Tahoma’s Bre West turned on it and drilled a walk-off 3-run homer in the bottom of the 8th inning, lifting Tahoma to a 7-4 win. The victory gave the Bears a 25-5 record and a third place finish in state for 4A softball. Woodinville finished the season at 24-3, securing fourth place.

For Woodinville’s first-year coach Dani Weir, it was a disappointing end to a fantastic season.
“There wasn’t much you could say to ease the pain,” she said. “We all know what happened and what our potential was and what could have been.”

Woodinville had entered the tourney with a 21-1 record and was the odds-on favorite to win it all, one year removed from their undefeated championship season of 2012.

They traveled to Spokane on Thursday and got in a one-hour practice in the late afternoon.

“We had an amazing practice,” Weir said. “The complex was full with all the teams that were practicing. I thought we came and made a statement; the girls were fired up and loud. They played some of the best ball I’ve seen them play all year. A great practice with high energy. We were very confident going into the next day.”

That next day was Friday, May 24 — the first round of State Tourney action. Woodinville fought off a scrappy Skyview squad with a 3-1 win, before unloading on Moses Lake later that afternoon, 12-2.

Heading into Saturday, the defending champs had a 23-1 record and seemed poised to repeat. The next opponent, however, was Camas, and fate did not smile upon the Lady Falcons.

“Madi came out strong and throwing hard,” Weir recalled. “First two innings went by, and our bats took a little while to warm up. Camas had some timely hits and made a few more adjustments early on that we weren’t able to make.”

Camas won 3-1 and knocked Woodinville out of contention for the state title.

“The reality was we were still able to leave the season on a winning note if everything panned out in our favor,” Weir said. “We changed our goal and wanted to be third in state. I told them I was going to give them some time to let it sink in. But come back and let’s win a ballgame and show them what Woodinville is about. We’re fighters and we dig deep.”

Woodinville came back to bash Newport, 12-2. That set up the final game against a tough Tahoma team for third place.

Tahoma seemed to match our talent level,” Weir said. “They came out and were pumped up and played a good ball game. It came down to the last inning where the softball gods came and were on their side. The girl (Bre West) made a good connection on a good pitch, and unfortunately it went over the fence. It just wasn’t our day.”
In the melancholic aftermath, Weir approached Schreyer, who graduates this spring and is bound for Stanford in the fall.

“I gave Madi a big hug and told her that players like her come around once in a lifetime,” Weir said. “I said that I’m so lucky as a coach, and our team is so lucky, to have a player and leader like her on our team. And I just wished her the best in the future.”

Also graduating were stars such as Emily Jackson, Alex Boyd and Alex Nelson.

With one year’s experience now as manager, Weir eagerly looks forward to the future.

“Shortstop Tori Lettus will be big for us,” Weir said. “Center fielder Nicole Shavlick has a lot of energy and passion for the game that is contagious. That will be a big leadership role. Alyssa O’Farrell has also been a stud for us in the infield and with her bat in the lineup. She’s very influential with the girls as well. We have a lot of girls with experience and leadership coming back.”

“We’ve got a big sophomore class and a junior class that has three state tourneys under their belt,” she said. “The next generation of girls have gotten that experience and that’s huge. They’ll know the expectations and what it takes to get there. You never know, next year could be when it all comes together and you get that title.”

Woodinville lacrosse beats Skyline, captures GELL Championship

  • Written by Derek Johnson Sports Writer

LacrossePhoto by Darla Padgett Torin Frevor (#5) leaps above the fray, as Woodinville celebrates its league championship and victory over Skyline on May 31 at Woodinville High School. To Frevor’s right are defender Jeren Andreotti (#4) and midfielder Noah Cuneo (#6). Alexander Blue scored four goals and his best friend Sam Farrington added two more, as Woodinville knocked off Skyline 9-6 on Friday May 31. Woodinville’s win capped  a perfect 15-0 season and earned them the Greater Eastside Lacrosse League championship for the 7th/8th grade division.   

“We played great tonight,” Woodinville coach Andy Farrington said. “That’s a great team we played. It was nice to finish the year playing our best game at the end.”

This championship now serves as a benchmark. When the Woodinville lacrosse program was launched four years ago, its purpose was to provide a feeder program for Woodinville High School.  Since its inception, the club has flourished to the point where 230 kids participated this year, from kindergarten through the 8th grade.

“Our goal is to win high school state championships,” booster Gary Bamesberger said. “Our journey is to take our kids and our community to that playing level.”

With an energetic crowd equally representing both teams, the first half featured frenetic moments of scoring.
Woodinville got on the board first when goalie Matthew Corbin snared a shot attempt and zipped a pass up field to teammate Alexander Blue. Like a running back in football breaking into the clear, Blue navigated his way through the Skyline defense before firing a scoring goal from 20 yards out, staking Woodinville to a 1-0 lead.

Woodinville upped its advantage to 5-3 after a scoring barrage in the second quarter, including goals from Sam Farrington and Tomomi Hirai. Heading into halftime, the Woodinville players were fired up, while a Skyline coached stalked his sideline, verbalizing his beef with the referees. “They’re getting some home cooking!” he shouted. “But that’s okay, it’ll taste that much sweeter for us in the end.”

But as the second half got underway, it became clear that this night’s feasting  belonged to Woodinville. Three more goals in the third stanza advanced the lead to 8-3, before a late Skyline rally closed the final margin to 9-6.When it was over, Woodinville players rushed the field as their faithful fans cheered wildly from across the way.

Coach Farrington grabbed Alexander Blue and shouted for his son Sam to join them. Together, the happy trio posed for a picture. “That’s one for the memory, right there!” shouted the elder Farrington.

The coach was then asked the key to his team’s success. “Passing,” he said. “A lot of these kids I’ve been coaching since the second or third grade, so we’ve brought them along. We’ve become a great passing team ... We’re very proud. The parents have committed. We’ve pushed the kids hard, and we worked hard, and we worked hard for this day. And it came together.”

Alexander Blue was all smiles. “First title ever, we’re so excited,” he said. “We’re so pumped. They’re a huge rival. The difference was Coach Andy. He’s been coaching me since second grade. He’s my best friend’s dad. It’s been a wonderful six years and it has come to this.”

When asked his age, the young man paused, then responded with sincerity: “I’m an eighth grader heading into high school next year,” he said. “It’s the last of our youth.”

Seahawk Football: Warren Moon’s thoughts on Russell Wilson

  • Written by Derek Johnson Sports Writer

Warren MoonCourtesy photo. Warren MoonThroughout the Pacific Northwest, you hear it peppered into conversations, you see it symbolized on Facebook walls.

More than ever, fans are foaming at the mouth about the Seattle Seahawks.

The season may be months away, but Super Bowl fantasies occupy the minds of many.

“There’s a lot of excitement,” Warren Moon said recently. “It’s based on how they finished last year and the off season they had in terms of the free agency acquisitions and also their draft.”

Moon, a Duvall resident, played locally for both the Huskies and Seahawks and is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. As excited as he is about the big picture, quarterback Russell Wilson intrigues him most.

“I’m impressed with Russell’s maturity and work ethic,” Moon said. “The way he’s the first one in and the last one to leave every day. When your quarterback is a guy who sets that type of example it makes everybody else follow. He’s going to become the best player on their football team.”

When Atlanta bounced Seattle from last year’s playoffs, people took note of the rookie Wilson’s demeanor.  
“He’s very optimistic,” Moon said. “Instead of being down and out because of them losing the football game, he was looking to the future and what he thinks the future of this team could be. They’re a young team that hasn’t scratched the surface yet.

“I’m sure he feels the same way about himself, because his rookie year started off slow and it just kind of slowly built as the year went along. They have the confidence in him now. They’re going to give him more responsibility now.”

Recently on the Dave Dameshek Football Program, the show’s producer brilliantly described Wilson as throwing a “sexy deep ball.”

“Russell throws one of the best deep balls I’ve seen in the league,” Moon said. “He throws it with a lot of air on it and he gives his receivers a chance to make adjustments, which is something a lot of guys don’t do. He throws it with great accuracy as far as putting it in a place where only his receiver can get the football.”

But one thing Wilson didn’t have was a big-time receiving threat. That’s been remedied with the acquisition of Percy Harvin.

“Harvin can be like a security blanket for a young quarterback because you don’t have to throw the ball far down the field with a guy like that,” Moon said.

“You just need to get it in his hands somehow, someway. You can line him up in the backfield. You can bring him around and give it to him on a reverse handoff. You can line him up in the slot and throw him a quick little bubble screen, or you can line him up outside and throw him a bubble screen. So there’s a lot of different ways you can get the ball into his hands with high percentage passes.

“I’m just excited about seeing the evolution of Russell Wilson,” Moon concluded. “They still were pretty conservative with the way they used him. I think he only went over 30 throws in one game ... I would like to see him throw the ball somewhere around 28-33 times a ball game and see what accumulates to go along with Marshawn Lynch and that running game.”

Three Falcons named to Star Times All-Area teams - Alex Boyd

  • Written by Derek Johnson Sports Writer

Alex Boyd - Mark Hatlan photoPhoto by Mark Hatlan. Woodinville’s star catcher Alex Boyd snares a strikeout pitch during a recent game against Redmond.For the second consecutive season, Woodinville’s Alex Boyd has been named to the Star Times All-Area Softball Team. As of May 24, Boyd is batting .389 with a slugging percentage of 1.056 and 15 walks. The cannon-armed catcher is Corvallis-bound, headed for Oregon State University this the fall.

The All-Area team is comprised of the creme de la creme. Only 2 pitchers, 1 catcher, 4 infielders 3 outfielders and one utility player are selected from over 100 high schools in  King and Snohomish counties.

“I was on it last year and it was a lot of fun,” Boyd said. “We drove down to the Seattle Times and had lunch. It was that much more exciting this year to go again with Madi and also with Caleb Hamilton (shortstop from Woodinville’s baseball team).”

In Boyd’s time at Woodinville, the Lady Falcons have gone to State three years in a row, including last year’s undefeated championship season. At the time of this interview, Woodinville was 21-1 and getting ready for a journey to Spokane for the 2013 State tourney. Boyd was asked to look back at her prep career.

“This team has grown a lot,” she said. “We’ve always been really close. We’ve lost quite a few seniors throughout the road but the great thing is these girls keep getting better and keep filling the shoes that have been lost (to graduation). We grow as a family, grow as a team. It’s been a blast working with everybody these last four years of high school ball.”

The conversation turned to current coach Dani Weir, who’s in her first season after taking over for Mark Leander.

“[She] and coach Leander have different coaching styles,” Boyd said. “She’s fresh out of college, having played college ball and everything. Both are great coaches. He’s a lot calmer, a lot quieter. Dani brings this huge fire and demeanor. She’s got this fire inside of her that says LET’S GO WIN THIS BALL GAME! And then some! She pushes us to our limits. It’s great.

“Leander was a great coach but he was quieter and sitting back to see how we would handle things. We had great seniors last year who helped out and led to our undefeated season.”

Boyd was asked about the supreme confidence with which her team plays.

“We feed off of each other,” she said. “One of the biggest things I’ve always been told is that if you ever have like an ounce of doubt, then you’re going to be struggling. So everybody on this team feeds off of each other’s confidence, each other’s fire, and we keep building off of that so there’s no doubt in our minds that we can succeed in what we’re doing.”

After her prep career concludes, the next time Boyd straps on catcher’s gear will be as a member of the Oregon State Beavers.  

“I’m getting so excited,” she said. “The campus is gorgeous, I love it there. When I first stepped on that campus I knew it was the place for me.”

And what does she foresee for the Woodinville team she’s leaving behind?

“These guys have a bright future,” she said. “There’s no shortage in talent with the girls who are coming up and will be returning next year. They will keep the legacy going.”

Three Falcons named to Star Times All-Area teams - Caleb Hamilton

  • Written by Derek Johnson Sports Writer

Caleb HamiltonPhoto by Patti Sternberg. Woodinville shortstop Caleb Hamilton concluded his prep career as the KingCo Player of the Year.Standing before the Seattle Times insignia, Caleb Hamilton put his arms around Madi Schreyer and Alex Boyd and smiled for the photographer. It was a winsome photo. Hamilton, the star shortstop of the Woodinville baseball team, and the two biggest stars from the softball team, looking happy as they were recently honored as members of the Star Times All-Area Team.  

“It was kind of cool to have three representatives from Woodinville go there,” Hamilton said. “Cool to see Madi and Alex get honored too. I knew most of the other (baseball players) there, because I have played against them for a couple years now. It was cool to be with those guys and get recognized for that.”

Thus concludes Hamilton’s prep career. Next season he’ll be playing for the Washington Huskies.

But regarding his Woodinville days, Caleb was asked to reflect on the best and worst moments.  

“The best would have to be this year,” he said. “Going to State for the first time in a couple years. Just being around the guys and having so much fun. We finally got Coach (Terry) Agnew back on top with that KingCo title.
“Toward the end of the year, we didn’t know if we would even make the tourney,” he said. “But we grew up. We became a team and became men. We got it done. Those last couple games of the season were the highlight of the year. We had Stephan White on the hill, and he was just dealing. Then in the KingCo tourney we had 5 home runs in two games. I’ve never seen that before from our team, it was just huge! We all fed off each other and everybody played a huge role.”

But it was early in Caleb’s career that finding his role proved most stressful.  

“My sophomore year,” he said. “The coaches are hard on everybody. They’re hard on you because they know you can get better. They’ll push you every day in practice. That was probably the lowest point, trying to get the feel for what the coaching staff had to offer and what their philosophies were. Just learning from them and their intelligence. The whole staff is very intelligent and they push you to get better every day. I realized the only way I would get better is through them teaching me how to play the game correctly.”

That adherence to good coaching is bound to pay off next season, as Hamilton heads off to the University of Washington on a baseball scholarship.  

“I grew up being a Husky fan,” he said. “My mother went there and my aunt and uncle are in the Hall of Fame there for basketball. I love the Huskies. They have a great program down there. They’re slowly rebuilding. Coach (Lindsay) Meggs is doing an incredible job as well as the whole coaching staff. I am so excited to play for them. They were the only team that really came out and said ‘we want you.’”