Barna encouraged about WHS softball club |

Barna encouraged about WHS softball club

Steve Yingling

After losing four key players to graduation from Whittell High’s 2007 regional softball tournament team, coach Rich Barna was concerned about replacing those components.

Those worries have come and gone.

The second-year Whittell skipper has observed several surprising developments since the Warriors opened practice last week.

“We’ve got a lot of promise,” Barna said. “We’re still young, and these girls still have a lot to learn, but I think we’re gonna be OK. I’m hoping we get to the playoffs, and I think we can. It just depends on how fast the girls learn.”

Until the younger players are seasoned, Barna has seniors Abby Kingman and Austyn Harrington to carry the load.

Kingman, a shortstop and the team’s captain, hit .479 and stole a team-high 14 bases a year ago. For the first time, however, she was left off the Northern 2A League first team. She was a second-teamer after collecting first-team all-league and first-team all-state honors her first two seasons.

“Abby is a great hitter. She’s really strong at everything she does,” Harrington said.

Harrington, an honorable mention selection for the Northern 2A last year, will go into the season as the Warriors’ No. 1 pitcher and play first base when she’s not on the mound.

“I’ve been working on my pitching and have learned some new pitches,” Harrington said. “I just want to be a well-rounded pitcher.”

Barna believes Harrington has the repetoire of pitches to keep hitters off balance.

“Austyn has really improved her pitching,” Barna said. “She has perfected her changeup and rise ball and added a drop ball. Her drop ball is really impressive and she throws it just as fast as her fastball.”

Barna can also send Justina Pritzker and Kingman to the mound.

“Justina’s control is a lot better than it was last year, and when Abby’s on and has control, there is no one who can touch her.”

The return of Stephanie Betts to the program has eliminated one of Barna’s majors concerns. Betts, who played for the Warriors during her freshman and sophomore years, will handle the catching duties. She will be backed up by Kingman.

Sophomore Heather Esquivel can play first base, and Barna will experiment with her at other infield positions. Pritzker can occupy a middle infield position when she’s not pitching, and junior Sarah Ehrler can field first base when Harrington is pitching.

“We’re all trying different positions. A lot of the girls haven’t touched a softball before. We have to work together and sort it all out,” Harrington said.

Barna is pleased with how quickly his outfield has come together. Sophomore Shaine Paradis and freshman Elise Schmidt will likely flank junior Gosia Skwarlinska, who is playing the sport for the first time but is a quick study.

With Whittell barely able to field enough players to compete a couple years ago, Barna is pleased that his roster has grown to 14 players.

“I love coaching at Whittell,” he said. “I’m coaching exactly where I need to be coaching. My forte is teaching girls how to play the game and the techniques, and that’s what you have to do at a smaller school.”

2008 Whittell schedule

Date Opponent Time

Friday Yerington tourney

Smith Valley 9 a.m

Incline 1:30 p.m.

Saturday Yerington tourney

North Tahoe Noon

Mammoth 3 p.m.

March 14 Whittell tourney 9 a.m./3 p.m.

March 15 Whittell tourney 1 + 3 p.m.

March 18 Coleville 3 p.m.

March 20 At Hawthorne (2) Noon

March 25 At Truckee 3:30 p.m.

March 29 At Battle Mtn. (2) Noon

April 1 Incline 3:30 p.m.

April 3 At Virginia City 3:30 p.m.

April 7 Truckee 3:30 p.m.

April 10 Virginia City 3:30 p.m.

April 12 At Lovelock (2) Noon

April 15 At Coleville 3:30 p.m.

April 16 At Smith Valley 3:30 p.m.

April 22 Smith Valley 3:30 p.m.

April 26 Silver Stage (2) Noon

April 28 At Incline 3:30 p.m.

April 29 At No. Valleys 3:30 p.m.

May 3 North Tahoe 10 a.m.

May 9-10 Regionals at Hawthorne TBA

May 15-17 State tournament TBA

Note: Home games are in bold.

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