Solid group of returnees for White River diamond sports

The baseball team placed second in the 2A League last year, but fell quickly in the West Central District tournament.

White River is well armed for the coming fastpitch season with Maddie Pipitone returning. She was the league’s Pitcher of the Year in 2017. File photo by Kevin Hanson

White River is well armed for the coming fastpitch season with Maddie Pipitone returning. She was the league’s Pitcher of the Year in 2017. File photo by Kevin Hanson

WHITE RIVER BASEBALL

Early-season signs are positive for second-year coach Nate Barnett as he puts his Hornets through their spring paces.

The core of the lineup returns and, as the coach points out, “guys are strong, quicker and throw harder.”

Barnett expects his squad to contend for the South Puget Sound League 2A title and advance to postseason play.

The Hornets are coming off a season in which they placed second in the SPSL 2A, earning a berth into the West Central District tournament. The tourney experience was a short one – two losses spelled elimination – and that’s something the 2018 crew will look to reverse.

The Hornets lost first-team, all-league outfielder Braden Fjeld to graduation, but returning starters are found all around the diamond. Back in the fold is junior Joe Flanigan, a first-team infielder a season ago. He’s joined by a pair of second-team infield honorees, Brock Keller and Braeden McNally. Earning all-league honorable mention following last season were pitchers Jacob Selander and Cole Richey, along with infielder Blake Lidstrom.

The Hornets are slated to kick off their season this Friday, March 9, by making the short trip to Enumclaw. The nonleague contest begins at 7 p.m. at Enumclaw’s Osborne Field

WHITE RIVER FASTPITCH

The White River girls appear stocked and ready to make another run at the Class 2A state fastpitch tournament.

The state tourney in Selah has become a familiar destination for coach Brandon Walker and his troops. They earned a berth in last year’s state festivities by winning the South Puget Sound League 2A regular-season championship, then placing second in the West Central District tourney.

If the Hornets are to make another Selah trip, they’ll have to do it without Ashley Long, last season’s divisional Player of the Year. She was lost to graduation, but a swarm of Hornets return.

Among the trio of first-team, all-league players are infielder Megan Vandegrift and outfielders Megan Cash and Noelle Mills. Also back after being named to the all-league second team is infielder Peyton Wallen. There doesn’t appear to be a problem in the pitching department, as Maddi Pipitone is back as the reigning SPSL 2A Pitcher of the Year. Also on the staff is sophomore Marissa Bartels, who was an honorable mention all-league pick a season ago.

Emma Nordenger will step into the lineup as catcher, replacing Long, and senior Teagan Smith is being counted on to help in the outfield.

Walker expects the Hornets’ run of success to continue. “Our expectations for the season are to challenge for the league championship again and finish the season in Selah at the state tournament,” he wrote in an email.

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