A youth movement in Issaquah softball
The Issaquah Eagles 2018 softball squad will be one of the youngest teams in the KingCo 4A Division this season.
The Eagles, who return just five players from last year’s varsity team, will have 13 new players on the squad. Eagles’ head coach Ron Hatlen said 11 of those players will be freshman and sophomores.
“Right now it is really about getting them to bond together as a team. They have to learn to play the game together and that is where we are at right now. It is all about the basics. We start off the season with Woodinville, Eastlake and Inglemoor. We start off with the top teams from the get go,” Hatlen said. “These girls work hard and have the potential to very good team. There is a huge amount of upside.”
Centerfielder Kendall Gentzen will be in her fourth season in the starting lineup for the Eagles this spring. Hatlen said senior Athena Benjamin can play any position on the field.
“She is the heart and soul of the team,” Hatlen said of Benjamin.
Even though the Eagles will be one of the youngest teams in its KingCo division, Hatlen believes his team will rise to the occasion.
“The rules don’t change. It is still a yellow ball and the strike zone is the same,” Hatlen said with a smile. “If we can control what we can control, we’ll be fine. Our goal is to make the playoffs. Once you’re in the playoffs everybody is 0-0 (record) again. We have a lot of potential.”
Head coach: Ron Hatlen
Last year: 4-16 overall; finished in eighth place in the KingCo 4A Division)
Key players: Athena Benjamin, C/UTL; Kendall Gentzen, CF; McKenna Malone, OF; Emma Huryn, P; Clara Wolff, INF
Eagles baseball aims for the mountaintop
Last season contained an abundance of memorable moments for the Issaquah Eagles on the baseball diamond.
After failing to make the playoffs in 2016, the Eagles advanced to the Class 4A state baseball tournament where they missed out on the quarterfinals with a loss to the Kentlake Falcons.
“We had a great bounce-back year from the year before and made a good run. We ran into Kentlake who finished second in the state. Baseball is a little bit different from other sports. One loss and you’re done. It was definitely a great year,” Issaquah head coach Rob Reese said.
While the Eagles graduated six players who were vital roleplayers in the batting order, the Eagles return a plethora of experienced pitchers to the bump. Eagles’ hurlers Justin Buckner, Mack Malcovich, Jared Jonejan, Torin Crockett and Zach Dunkleberger all saw significant varsity time on the hill during the 2017 season.
“It is pretty sweet because having that experience on the mound is huge. We got a great group,” Reese said with a smile. “I would rather try to only score a couple of runs to win than having to have to go out knowing you have to score 10 (runs). We’ve got some great talent.”
Reese said there’s a contingent of sophomores and juniors who will have to rise to the occasion for the Eagles offense to be prolific during the 2018 season.
“We have some young guys who are going to have to step into those positions. There are some sophomores who will be taking those spots. That is a big jump for them. Hopefully we can get them up to pace pretty quickly. We lost a lot of seniors from last year who were very important to us but every team does,” Reese explained. “It is just a matter of the young guys stepping up and performing.”
Head coach: Rob Reese
Last year: 17-7 overall; finished tied for first place in KingCo 4A Conference during the regular season
Key returners: Mack Mahovlich, C/P; Justin Buckner, 3B/P; Jared Jongejan P; Torin Crockett, P/OF; Zach Dunkleberger, P