Whittell High softball team has momentum | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell High softball team has momentum

Steve Yingling

Whittell High’s softball team has yet to play a game in 2001, but the program has more momentum now than at any time during the 1990s.

The Warriors concluded the 2000 season with three straight wins, coach Lindsay Wines welcomes back nine starters and the Warriors are no longer the rag doll for Nevada 3A powerhouses Dayton, Manogue and Yerington.

“I’m as optimistic about this season as I’ve been about any season ever,” said Wines, a sixth-year coach who also serves as the school’s girls basketball mentor. “I’ve had kids coming to me since November saying I can’t wait until softball. They’re really excited about the possibilities that we have this year.”

That optimism has also been embraced by Wines’ players.

“We can make state, but our realistic expectation for right now is to make zone. Once we get there, state definitely is within reach,” said WHS senior pitcher Meredith Shaw.

“We’re looking forward to the season because I think our pitching and their pitching are pretty equal now. I think we’re going to have a better chance,” said junior shortstop Stephanie Evans.

Switching from the 3A to the 2A ranks has boosted Whittell’s confidence.

“There’s no more Yerington, Manogue or Dayton,” Wines said.

“It’s a load off knowing that we don’t have to go against those teams because we knew they were way out of our league,” Shaw said. “But I think we have a lot of pressure this year. Seeing that we did so well last year compared to our previous years, there’s a lot of pressure on us now to make it to at least zone.”

If the Warriors do earn one of the Northern Nevada 2A’s four zone playoff berths from a league that also includes Hawthorne, Incline, Lovelock and Tonopah, Shaw will have a hand in it.

As a junior last year, Shaw pitched 80 percent of the innings.

“She has improved tremendously since last year,” Wines said. “Her velocity is quicker and accuracy is better. She really wants to do well.”

The leading role suits Shaw just fine.

“I remember when we beat Lovelock (last year), that was a 15-inning day and I pitched all 15 innings,” Shaw said. “It’s straining and it’s tiring, but it’s really rewarding.”

Wines’ daughter, Ashley, relieves Shaw from time to time.

“Ashley has improved since last year and she’ll only get better,” Shaw said of her sophomore understudy. “But I don’t mind being in the position I’m in. I like knowing the team trusts me and I have a great lineup behind me, so I more than trust them.”

One of those reliable fielders is junior star shortstop Evans. Evans, a 2000 second-team all-leaguer, only committed six errors as a sophomore while hitting a robust .810 against nonleague foes and .642 overall.

“I’m expecting great things out of her this year. She probably could be the best player in the league,” Wines said. “She can play any infield or outfield position.”

Also bringing experience to their positions are senior third baseman Maggie Jones, senior outfielder Jocelyn Mata, junior first baseman Ashley Berns, junior second baseman Erin Silver, senior outfielder/catcher Caitlin Fagan and sophomore catcher/outfielder Kathy Kiger. But it’s the younger players who Shaw feels are going to make the Warriors stronger.

“We have a lot more promising bench than we’ve had in the past,” Shaw said. “A lot of the freshmen who came in are doing really well in practice and they seem to have a pretty good understanding of the game, and that will mean a lot when it comes down to needing them.”

The Warriors open their season today in Virginia City.

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