The Mountlake Terrace Hawks softball team begins play at home this week but is already looking ahead to possible games 150 miles away at the end of May.
“Our ultimate goal is to get back to State,” said Hawk Coach Shannon Rasmussen.
But before Terrace can qualify for the 2A State Softball Tournament that ends May 27 in the central Washington town of Selah, the team will have to work their way through a season schedule that includes a number of strong 4A teams and two state champions from last year.
Despite the challenging slate of games set for her squad this year, Rasmussen is heading into the season with optimism.
“We have a lot of depth and versatility this year which should benefit us, especially as we get deeper into the season,” she said. “If our core group of players can stay healthy, we should have a successful season.”
“We have a long season ahead of us and we are taking it week to week and game to game right now,” Rasmussen added.
The Hawks, though young with only seniors on the squad, have experience up and down their 2017 roster.
“We have eight returners that all saw a significant amount of playing time last year and will continue to get a lot of playing time this year,” Rasmussen pointed out.
Seniors Kira Doan and Gabby Calhoun will serve as team captains, share duties on the mound and at second base, and both hit near the top of the Terrace lineup this season.
“Both of them are four-year starters with a lot of experience playing at this level, so we expect both of them to have a solid season this year,” Rasmussen said.
Behind Doan and Calhoun in the lineup will be Sammy Ruiz and Jazz Zenk. The two juniors will also anchor the left side of the infield with Ruiz at shortshop and Zenk at third base.
“Both of them have hit really well for us the last two years and have worked hard in the offseason to improve even more, so we are looking to them to lead our offense,” said Rasmussen.
Junior Amaya Kaupp will also get some time at third base this season in addition to helping at first base and behind the plate.
Sophomores Kennedy Cooper and Sarah Davis will be called upon to help with pitching duties this season. Cooper will also get time in the outfield while Davis will fill in at first base and third base when necessary.
Six freshmen are included on the Hawk 2017 varsity roster, with Jamie Bingaman and Jenna Maxfield standing out among them.
“Our freshmen group is one of the largest and strongest groups that we have had in the last few years,” Rasmussen noted.
The Hawks will get tested right away this year with matchups against three 4A teams in their first three games. Terrace will host the Lake Stevens Vikings on Wednesday, March 15, and the Mariner Marauders on Friday, March 17, before traveling to Glacier Peak on Tuesday, March 21, to face the Grizzlies – the team that ended Terrace’s season last year with an 8-7 defeat in the District 1 3A tournament.
The competition may get even tougher for the Hawks when they slide into their 3A Wesco League schedule starting March 22. League games this year include matchups against 2016 3A State tournament qualifier Marysville-Pilchuck, 2016 4A State Champion (and now a 3A classified team) Snohomish, and two clashes with 2016 3A State Champion Meadowdale.
MTHS Hawks 2017 Softball
Coach: Shannon Rasmussen (5th year)
2016 record: 15-8 overall
First 2017 game: versus Lake Stevens, Wednesday, March 15, 4 p.m. at Mountlake Terrace High School
Key players: Kira Doan, pitcher/2nd base; Gabby Calhoun, pitcher/2nd base, Sammy Ruiz, shortstop; Jazz Zenk, 3rd base
2017 schedule: click http://www.wescoathletics.com/index.php?pid=0.3.40.15.321
–By Doug Petrowski