If pitching means anything then with senior right hander, Rendi Johnson, Bonney Lake’s fastpitch squad already has half the battle won.
The Panther girls, playing in a South Puget Sound League 3A, which they dominated during the 2011 campaign to easily capture the league crown and went on to register a 25-4 overall mark by going deep into the postseason jungle, are not a one trick pony by any stretch of the imagination.
Besides having a capable bull pen, each position on the black and teal roster possesses a tandem of talents that should scare the dickens out of every opponent on their schedule: speed and hitting.
One very important key to the Panthers’ journey to last year’s state tournament in Lacey was skilled shortstop Taylor Watkins, who graduated last summer and is now playing centerfield for the Ohio State University fastpitch squad. The Panthers finished fifth in the state last year.
Teams don’t easily replace players the ilk of a prep star like Watkins, but they are going to move Kayla Wells over to shortstop from the station she played at second base last year.
Any questions about Wells’ leather can be answered by the fact that she was one of the outstanding facets on defense last year, which committed only three errors in nearly 30 outings.
Also gracing the stellar infield will be Jacqui Courneya, Madi Lowery and junior Chelsea Crawford, who Panther head coach Andrew Sage called a pleasant surprise. Sage feels comfortable placing her into any position, knowing that she is just that versatile of a glove to be walking insurance policy should the injury bug rear its ugly head for this season.
Another departure that Bonney Lake will have to account for is catcher Mickey Blad, who was a natural at catcher and a big stick in a fearsome line-up that averaged nine runs per game last season, actually “10- running” a considerable number of its league foes. Blad will be spending her senior season playing for the Mount Si High School squad, but Sage had candidate in mind for filling the void left by Blad’s exit in freshman Courtney Campbell, who Sage predicts has all of the tools to be a good prospect to occupy that spot.
Perhaps the most spectacular cog in the Bonney Lake machinery this year will be its gifted outfield, anchored by senior center fielder Christian McKone who according to Sage, “is as fast as greased lightning,” and is the current frontrunner to nail down the lead-off hitter role for the hit-and-run oriented Panthers.
McKone will be sandwiched between a right fielder and a left fielder that Sage said are among the two most improved players on the squad in underclassmen Bailey Ahern and Chantay Courneya. “Bailey really turned it up a notch during the off-season to take her game to the next level and Chantay has also improved immensely,” Sage said.