WHS softball hopes to build off 2010 success | TahoeDailyTribune.com

WHS softball hopes to build off 2010 success

David Heldt-Werle / Special to the TribuneSara Gillespie makes a play at first.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – In 2010, the Whittell softball team was one run from qualifying for the state tournament. If area coaches didn’t respect the Warriors before their 1-0 loss to Battle Mountain in the regional title game, they certainly did after it.

Coach Rich Barna hopes that respect will match the team’s performance in 2011 as the Warriors return every notable performer from last year’s 14-17 team.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll play well after how we finished last year,” said Barna, who started seven underclassmen in 2010. “We’re going to show up and not lie down in front of anybody. I can tell you that.”

The nucleus of the team comprises junior Megan Miller, sophomore pitcher Amanda Harris and senior pitcher Marissa Besson. Miller was a first-team all league performer last year, batting .333 with an on-base percentage of .564. She believes the success last year has strengthened the team coming into this season.

“We have more a team bond this year,” Miller said. “We were more individuals last year.”

Harris and Besson should provide a formidable pitching duo for the Warriors, who opened the season with three wins and a tie last weekend at a preseason tournament in Yerington. Harris was named to the league’s second team after compiling a 1.01 ERA. Besson, meanwhile, had a 1.60 ERA and a 4-5 record prior to suffering a season-ending injury.

“We went from losing 18-0 to Battle Mountain to losing 1-0 and coming up just short of going to state,” Besson said. “We want to win this year … we expect to win this year.”

Whittell also relishes the chance at playing league games against 3A competition after spending previous seasons strictly playing in the Northern 2A.

With games against larger-enrollment schools such as Hug, Truckee, North Valleys and South Tahoe, the Warriors must overcome stiffer competition to make a return to the postseason.

Whittell, however, is excited about another postseason run regardless of its opponents, and at the opportunity to play cross-town rival South Tahoe in league games instead of non-league ones.

“We’re working a lot harder and taking it more seriously this year,” said senior Rachel Laub, the team’s shortstop and part of a solid infield that includes Brianna Brewer at third base. “It seems like there is more trash talk between us and South Tahoe now that our games against them mean something.

Senior Sara Gillespie, the team’s designated hitter, echoed Laub’s feelings about facing the Vikings. The two south shore schools square on Saturday in a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. at Lampe Park in Gardnerville.

“I’m really excited about this season,” Gillespie said. “It will be a little different now that the games will count against South Tahoe when before they really didn’t count.”

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