New coach takes reins with WR baseball; fastpitch team after another state trip

The White River High baseball team – for the first time in many years – has a new hand on the wheel.

Garrett Bond delivers for White River during a league game last spring. Photo by Kevin Hanson

BASEBALL

The White River High baseball team – for the first time in many years – has a new hand on the wheel.

Nate Barnett was tabbed to take the Hornet reins after Hall of Fame skipper Mike Williams decided to step away from coaching duties.

Barnett has not previously been a part of the Hornet program, but he has coached baseball in the region for the past 15 years.

Barnett has had a tough introduction to the high school program, greeted by seasonal Northwest weather that limited time outdoors. It’s challenging for all involved, he said, when your field is blanketed in white or soggy from rain.

Barnett is looking at a mix of some experienced varsity players combined with a healthy mix of underclassmen.

“We have a lot of quality guys coming back and a lot more younger guys who will play significant roles,” he wrote in an email. Intentionally creating an atmosphere based on competition, he’s hesitant to single out individual players this early in the season.

“I’m wanting C/JV guys to push to fit into the lineup and I’m wanting the varsity guys to work hard at keeping their spot,” he wrote. “In short, team guys are the ones who’ll rise to the top in our program.”

That said, there are Hornets in the program who have proven themselves. Braden Fjeld was a second-team all-league outfielder a season ago and returns for his senior campaign; senior Garrett Bond and junior Cole Richey were honorable mention picks a year ago.

For Barnett and his staff, the goal is to create an offense that is aggressive at the plate and on the bases. Fans will see Hornets in motion, he said, putting pressure on the opposition.

The Hornets are coming off a 2016 that saw the team advancing to the West Central/SeaKing tournament. The experience was short lived, however, as White River dropped a pair of games to be eliminated.

This spring’s schedule isn’t doing anyone any favors, with games beginning this weekend – if the weather allows. White River is slated to take to the road Friday for a 4 p.m. game at Auburn Mountainview. It helps that the Lions play on an artificial turf field.

FASTPITCH

The challenge facing any successful program is to stay on top.

That’s the spring storyline for coach Brandon Walker and the White River High girls fastpitch team.

The Hornets can expect to draw everyone’s best effort, based on recent history. White River has made six straight trips to the Class 2A state tournament and, in 2015, battled to an appearance in the state title game. A year ago, the Hornets were again in Selah for the state tourney, but dropped their first two games and were eliminated.

Still, that’s an enviable run of success – and Walker has greeted a handful of players who helped create the winning culture.

Back this year are first-team all-league shortstop Megan Vandegrift; second-team catcher Ashley Long and honorable mention selection Megan Cash. Much of the fastpitch game centers around pitching, where the Hornets have junior Maddi Pipitone heading the staff; she was a second-team all-league pick last season.

Lost to graduation were all-league first-team selection Jordanne Fray, second-team picks Brittany Harder and Natalie Vollandt and honorable mention selection Kennedy Ledbetter.

The spring weather has remained in winter mode, making turnouts difficult for teams throughout the region. Despite that, the Hornet fastpitch squad is slated to begin nonleague play Monday with a home game against Orting.

More in Sports

Locals among 3-on-3 basketball winners

The annual pickup basketball game during Enumclaw’s Street Fair has grown in size considerably.

Veteran coach takes over EHS boys water polo program

Scott Usborne recently went from Mira Mesa to Auburn High, finally landing in Enumclaw.

In step with helping out

This was the third year the EHS track team worked to improve the trail at Nolte State Park.

Barrel racing honors memory of Enumclaw’s Christianson

Melanie died in 2013, but family and friends continue to organize the annual Melanie Christianson Memorial Race to honor her legacy.

Enumclaw’s Hooper a rising star in world of MMA

“The Teenage Dream” is currently undefeated, sitting on a 6-0 proffesional record.

Gretler brothers: One to the Bears, one to the Beavers

The former Panthers are ready to hit the next level of baseball.

Time to register for Street Fair 3-on-3 hoop tournament

The entry fee is $60 per team in the youth/high school divisions and $70 in the men’s, women’s, family and business divisions.

Sumner diver Rodriguez now an All-American

The SHS graduate will soon start diving for the University of Arizona.

Equestrians take on Oregon’s best

Several Hornets earned their second Pacific Northwest Individual Championship awards.

Bonney Lake rower earns national student-athlete honor

Former Panther Ashley Yandt is a key athlete for the WWU Viking rowing team.

Clinkingbeard cinches fifth year as All-Around Logger

Check out who else was a cut above the rest during the 2018 Log Show

All-state squads include Panthers, Hornets

White River’s Megan Vandegrift and Bonney Lake’s Brooke Nelson were among the top players this year.