Whittell softball lined with Silver and Evans
Details are hard to come by regarding Whittell High School’s softball team of four years ago.
Most don’t remember, or don’t want to, especially after recalling the team didn’t win a single Northern Nevada 3A League game.
Now, however, heading into the Northern Nevada 2A league playoffs for the first time, that goose-egg season is a point of pride for Erin Silver and Stephanie Evans.
Silver and Evans, the only two Whittell seniors still playing ball from the winless team four years ago, have a unique perspective on playoffs this year.
“I think (the team) understands how much zone means to us,” said Evans, the team’s batting leader at .708 in league. “It’s a big step for softball at Whittell.”
Whittell’s rise from 0-22 four years ago has been brief. It received a boost two years ago when it dropped down from 3A to Northern Nevada’s 2A League. It received another lift last year with new assistant coaches.
Silver and Evans are the only two players that have seen it happen, starting from 0-22, but this year is the first time they’ve seen the team leap from 3-13 in league to its current winning record of 9-7, the best Whittell softball record in the past seven years.
Silver is quick to point out that Whittell has a talented pool of younger players and a talented coaching staff.
Dick Gardner and Bud Gwinn, who helped the team last year, returned this year, along with Dan McCraw, formerly the manager of South Tahoe High School’s junior varsity softball team. Jeremy Brice also helped out this year.
When Wines hit fly balls to the outfield during practice on Wednesday, she had no reason to worry about the rest of the team; Gwinn coached freshman pitcher Katie Green on the mound and McCraw worked the infielders at the batting cages in the gym.
“They’re heavily involved this year,” Silver said.
Perhaps the extra staff has enabled the younger players to step up without compromising the direction the older players need.
Perhaps they’ve given the younger players a reason to stick around.
“We’ve had girls stick with playing,” said Evans, the team’s MVP of the past two years. “The girls on the team now are the ones that want to win and are competitive.”
Even coach Wines said the team has had a big turnaround.
“I have three girls back from last year that started every game,” she said on Saturday. “I have two more that played last year. Everyone else is new and they’ve just done a great job.”
As far as her two, four-year varsity seniors: “They’re huge. They’re big parts of the program … they’re going to be two tough spots to fill in the lineup next year.”
Silver, a centerfielder, has been one of the top defenders on the team with an .853 fielding percentage; she hit .382 and made five errors in league games.
Evans wasn’t that far behind at .827 in the field; she made 10 errors at shortstop.
Those stats are among the reasons why Wines intends to nominate them as all-league players this year. She hopes to have five players on the two select teams.
For the present, the team needs to win three straight games to go to state, or battle back from the consolation bracket if it loses early on.
They face Tonopah in the first round at 10 a.m. Friday.
Silver said she’s proud to be playing at the top of her game in her final high school performances before attending Colgate University in upstate New York next fall.
“I’m proud that this is my senior year and we’re doing so well,” she said. “The girls are really stepping it up.”
Evans said she may try and walk on at Chico State University next year, where she plans to study criminal justice.
“It’s going to be kind of sad not being able to be here because the team’s going to do well the next couple of of years.”
At Colgate, an NCAA Division I school, Silver doesn’t intend to try and walk on. But she says the intramural and club programs are competitive enough to keep her interested.
“I watched a softball game and got all excited,” she said of her visit to the school.
She plans to pursue sports medicine.
“I’ll definitely be playing ball, but not on the varsity level. I don’t want to stop,” she said. “I want to keep sports a part of my life.”
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