The Enumclaw High fastpitch team, which contended at the Class 3A state tournament last season, lost second baseman Jill Parker to graduation and bid farewell to longtime coaches Loran Zenonian and Lee Reichert, but there are two silver linings in those dark clouds.
The Hornet girls picked up a new man at the helm in veteran skipper Mike Eckhart, who brings a new staff of assistants and a wealth of experience to the table. He was the fastpitch mentor at Sammammish High School for more than 15 years.
Second, the Hornets won’t have the vexing Auburn Riverside contingent to deal with, as those Ravens as well as the Auburn High School team moved on to the Class 4A designation.
“I know next to nothing about the teams in this league,” said Eckhart, who previously coached in the KingCo League where he earned 3A fastpitch coach of the year accolades in 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2007.
“I am sure going to be communicating with the gals on my team and I am confident that they will be more then happy to furnish me with a fantastic scouting report,” he said.
Enumclaw is returning enough of a nucleus from last season’s quality team, which went 12-2 in league, to be a force to be reckoned with.
The list of talent remaining from last year’s squad is extensive and begins with its all-SPSL 3A battery of senior catcher Ashley Dell’Osa and righty windmiller Jill Stewart. The added bonus with this tandem is that they provide a real power source at the plate.
Stewart is not the only arm in the Hornet arsenal. Austin Rogers returns as a junior with a couple of years of pitching experience under her belt, to spell Stewart once in a while.
Additionally, Enumclaw returns a jewel in shortstop Taylor Franich, who scorched basepaths around the league last year, stealing 35 bases during the regular season and also had a batting average looming around the .400 mark.
Weather allowing, the Hornets will get in a lot of early practice before their first league counter at 7 p.m. March 20 at the Boise Creek Sixplex against Bonney Lake.
Before then, Enumclaw will be involved in the Inglemoor Jamboree at 6 p.m. Friday and the Kentwood Invitational at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Reach John Leggett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-802-8207.