Panthers gear up for another PCL campaign

The girls’ team are the defending state champions this year.

Bonney Lake’s Brooke Nelson delivers during last year’s Class 3A state tournament. The future University of Washington Husky is back for a senior season with the Panthers. File photo by Kevin Hanson

Bonney Lake’s Brooke Nelson delivers during last year’s Class 3A state tournament. The future University of Washington Husky is back for a senior season with the Panthers. File photo by Kevin Hanson

BASEBALL

Coach Mike Olson has plenty of holes to fill, as his Panther baseball program was hit hard by graduation.

Gone are the likes of Matthew Gretler, last season’s Pierce County League MVP who packed his bags for Corvallis to join the Oregon State baseball team. Also departing were eight others who earned all-league honors last season. That group led the Panthers to an Elite Eight appearance in last season’s Class 3A state tourney.

“We graduated 13 last season and had one more move out of state, so we have a lot of work to do,” Olson said. “But we are extremely excited.

“We have a young crop of kids chomping at the bit to learn, get better with each other, and compete at this level.”

Early on, Olson said, the Panthers will rely on four returning players: senior catcher Gage Miller, infielder/pitcher Austin Friis (a second team all-Pierce County League third baseman last year), pitcher Ethan Stevens-Day (second team all-PCL) and junior infielder/pitcher Gavin Ludlow (second team all-PCL as a utility player).

“We have a balance of juniors, sophomores and freshmen making up the rest of our squad, and can’t wait to watch them grow into their roles,” Olson said.

Olson and this year’s squad will see live action Monday when the host district rival Sumner High. Game time is 4 p.m. on the Bonney Lake campus. The early-season tests continue against defending state champion Southridge and Class 4A Union High prior to the beginning of the PCL season.

SOFTBALL

This is, by any standard, a great way to kick off a softball season: taking the diamond as defending state champions, with perhaps the state’s best player gearing up for her senior campaign.

That’s exactly the situation enjoyed by Bonney Lake coach Andrew Sage, who welcomed back a handful of honored players when practices kicked off Feb. 25.

Leading the way is senior Brooke Nelson, who is as dangerous at the plate as she is on the mound. When the Washington State Softball Coaches Association released its all-state team following last season, Nelson was tabbed the Class 3A state player of the year and was a first-team pitcher.

Joining her as a first-team selection was her sister Brynn Nelson, at second base; named to the all-state second team was Anna Hook, first base. Adding to the honors, Sage was chosen as the 3A state Coach of the Year.

Brynn Nelson returns this year as a sophomore and Hook is a junior. As far as building blocks go, that’s an impressive start.

But it’s just the beginning for the loaded Panther lineup. Also back in the fold are first team all-league pitcher Gabby Jones, second team infielder Shelby Welfringer and second team catcher Hailee Hagins.

If the goal for this year’s team is to match last spring’s accomplishments, that’s a mighty tall order. A season ago, the Panthers went 26-2, including an eight-game sweep in the district and state tournaments, a run of success that culminated with the Panthers hoisting the championship trophy.

This year’s campaign begins Saturday when the Panthers host a jamboree on the Bonney Lake campus. The first regular-season game comes March 12 with a trip to Gig Harbor and a nonleague contest with the Tides.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Sports

Free image
Start of high school sports delayed again

Winter sports are scheduled to begin with practices on Feb. 1.

Kanaskat-Palmer State Park is one of several local parks you can visit for free on Nov. 11 and 27. Photo courtesy Washington State Parks
State Parks announces last two ‘free days’ for 2020

Nov. 11 and 27 will be the last time you can visit a state park for free.

A new paved trail, provided by the city of Enumclaw, extends to a point just shy of the city limits. Here, a trail user and canine companion turn and head back toward Battersby Avenue. Photo by Kevin Hanson
Flat, smooth and short: two trails completed on Enumclaw’s north side

A quick tour of the new trail along Battersby Avenue.

Margaret Petellin
Enumclaw’s Petellin takes swim talents to Luther College

As a Hornet, Petellin was a four-year letter winner in swimming and track and field.

The Enumclaw pool won’t be filled for several months more, as extra repairs need to be done first.  Photo by Ray Miller-Still
Cold water thrown on pool’s grand-reopening

Plans to open the pool early November have been scrapped as more repairs appear necessary.

Screenshot
White River High taking nominations for Year 2 Hall of Fame inductees

Here’s what you need to know to nominate a sports legend from your time at WRHS.

In this file photo from March 2020, the Federal Way High School boys basketball team reacts in the final minutes of the state quarterfinals game against Mt. Si High School. File photo
New guidelines released for return of prep sports in WA

The new plan places counties and sports in three-tier systems. No signs of a quicker return to play.

File Photo/Kent Reporter
Emerald Downs increases horse racing purses

Betting up 67% over last year

The trailhead for Ranger Falls/Green Lake is clearly marked, three miles from the end of Carbon River Road; the trail to the falls is mostly uphill but provides great natural scenery; and, finally, the roaring falls is the ultimate payoff. Photos by Kevin Hanson
Ranger Falls: three easy miles, then it’s all uphill

This is the ninth in a series of articles about local hikes.

Foothills Trail: a popular destination now, even more planned for future
Foothills Trail: a popular destination now, even more planned for future

This is the ninth in a series of articles about local hikes.

Green River Natural Area: some trails short and simple, others provide a test
Green River Natural Area: some trails short and simple, others provide a test

This is the eighth in a series of articles about local hikes.

Nolte State Park: hike the trail, catch a fish or stretch out for a family picnic
Nolte State Park: hike the trail, catch a fish or stretch out for a family picnic

This is the seventh in a series of articles about local hikes.