Megee takes over Whittell softball, brings high-level experience to the diamond
2016 Warriors Regular Season Schedule
March 11 at Yerington L 16-0
March 11 vs. Wells T 12-12
March 12 vs. Bishop Union L
March 12 vs. Dayton T 9-9
March 16 vs. Pershing County L / L 17-15
March 25-26 Nicole Snyder Memorial JV Tournament (Stodick Park)
April 5 vs. Sierra Sage Academy/ROP, 4 p.m.
April 12 vs. Pyramid Lake, 2 p.m. (DH)
*April 15 vs. Smith Valley, 3 p.m. (DH)
April 20 vs. Silver Stage, 3:30 p.m.
*April 25 at Coleville, 1 p.m. (DH)
April 27 at Silver Stage, 3:30 p.m.
*April 29 vs. Virginia City, 3 p.m.
*May 4 at Virginia City, 3 p.m.
May 5 vs. Sierra Sage Academy/ROP, 4 p.m. (Zephyr Cove Park)
May 9 at South Tahoe, 3 p.m.
Home games in bold, played at Lampe Park in Gardnerville unless noted
*Div. IV West League contest
Kelly Megee has a passion for softball, and has played and coached the sport at a high level. This season, she is bringing that big-time experience to the Whittell softball program.
Megee was hired to coach the Warriors just prior to the start of the 2016 season. She takes over for Dave Galicia, who went a combined 48-33 in three seasons as head coach. Last year Whittell finished third in Div. IV Northern League and qualified for the regional playoffs.
“It’s very different than what I’m used to,” Megee said. “It’s a good learning experience for me and the girls.”
After graduating from Martin Luther King High in Riverside, California, Megee played collegiately at Fresno State for all-time NCAA wins leader Margie Wright. As a senior in 2015, she was part of a Bulldogs team that won the Mountain West Conference and appeared in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m a very competitive person and I love winning,” Megee said. “I have more patience here, but I have the same expectations.”
Megee’s coaching stops prior to taking the reins of Whittell’s program included assisting at UC Riverside and for the Swedish National Team. Now with the Warriors, her primary focus has been teaching the fundamentals of the game to a team that has varying levels of experience.
“I broke their games down to ground zero, and we are building them from there,” Megee said. “I wanted to start brand new and have them do things the way I have been taught that work and are successful.”
The Warriors have spent their first weeks under Megee sharpening basic skills — including proper grip when throwing and how to field a ground ball. Megee wants Whittell to have the fundamentals in place before moving forward, no matter how long it takes.
“I’m throwing an abundance of information at them and I think they’re overwhelmed at times, but they’re starting to catch on slowly but surely,” Megee said. “I’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth — they know what they’re doing.”
Whittell lost only one senior from last year’s team, and returns 12 players with varsity experience. That group of returners features five seniors — Kelsey Kjer, Jordyn Becker, Daria Sharon, Aliza McLey and Madison Malone.
“I like where everyone has responsibilities and everybody is a huge part of the team,” Megee said. “There’s no one that is a captain over anyone else — they are all equal.”
For the third straight year, Kjer is Whittell’s ace in the circle. In 22 appearances last season, Kjer went 11-8 with a 3.47 ERA and 124 strikeouts while throwing 109 innings.
“She’s our No. 1 pitcher and our go-to girl — she’s pitched most of our innings,” Megee said. “We need her every single game and she’s going to be our ace.”
Becker supplies the power in Whittell’s lineup while playing first base, and Sharon brings speed both on the basepaths and defensively. Another returner, Junior Eva Fuller, has moved from third base to catcher, and provided stability behind the plate while filling one of the Warriors’ biggest needs.
“I’ve thrown a lot at her, and she’s taken everything and implemented it into games and practices,” Megee said of Fuller. “She is a huge part of this team.”
Also back from last year’s varsity team are juniors Ali Copsy and Madison Idso along with sophomores Kaitlyn Kjer, Lacey Robinson, Makena Snipes and Allison Bell. Newcomers include juniors Annalisa Mortellaro and Elin Bjurstam, sophomores Sydney Ellbogen and Kallie Nelson, and freshmen Madison Burch and Isabella Cibulsky.
“Every girl has a different skill level — I have girls that have been playing for four years and girls that just picked up a softball three weeks ago,” Megee said. “I’m giving them everything I’ve learned.”
Six games into the season, Whittell is still seeking its first victory. The Warriors tied twice and lost twice in games against Yerington, Dayton, Wells (Nev.) and Bishop Union (Bishop, Calif.) at the season-opening Yerington Tournament March 11-12 and fell twice against Pershing County in its home debut March 16 at Lampe Park.
“We’re only going to get better by playing better schools — we’re not going to get better playing schools at our level or below us,” Megee said. “I wanted them to play at an upper level and gain that experience.”
The Div. IV Northern Region has been split into two leagues for the 2016 season — Whittell is in the West along with Coleville, Smith Valley and Virginia City; Carlin, Eureka, Mineral County, Pyramid Lake and Wells will play in the East. The Warriors open league play against Smith Valley on Friday, April 15, at Lampe Park.
“The girls know how competitive and how much passion I have for this game, and I’ve tried to teach them that same thing,” Megee said. “By the end of the season, I think we will all be on the same page. We’ve already come a long way, and I expect to see us getting better towards the end.”
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