The good news: Eastside Catholic returns eight players from last year’s 14-8 district playoff squad.
The bad news: There were only 13 girls who tried out for this year’s team.
“A couple injuries and we’re in trouble,” second-year head coach Alison Mitchell said. “We can play with 10, and after that you have to have subs.”
Unfortunately for the Crusaders, the injury bug has already taken a bite. Senior Kelly Carroll went down with a possible season-ending injury just a few days into the season, and Mitchell said one other player suffered an injury on her throwing arm.
Despite early-season woes, Mitchell has maintained a positive outlook.
“I’ve got a really small team, but the thing is we have excellent pitching,” she said. “That’s like 90 percent of the battle.”
Key to that group is senior Kelly Lloid and junior Ronnie Mae Ayers. Lloid won seven games for Eastside last season with 76 strikeouts in 55 innings. Ayers won five games.
The two also split time at first base, and led the Crusaders at the plate last season. Lloid hit .427, while Ayers hit .410.
“They do a good job all the way around,” Mitchell said.
Eastside returns most of its infield. The Crusaders bring back senior second baseman Daionda Davis and sophomore shortstop Alex Johnston. Sophomore Shannon Heric will take over at third base after playing in the outfield last season. Other returners include senior catcher Morgan Saad, senior outfielder Erin Stickley and junior outfielder Danielle Ulrich.
“We got a pretty good core coming back,” Mitchell said.
Eastside will also receive assistance from new first-base coach Allison Scanlin, who played Division I softball for Loyola-Chicago.
“She’s doing a great job with the infielders, working them around,” Mitchell said.
The Crusaders, who placed fourth in their division last year, look to have another strong season in the Metro League, hoping to return to the Sea-King District tournament.
“I know that pitching can at least take us that far,” Mitchell said. “I just want to make sure the rest of the team can continue to build and grow and take advantage of having such good pitchers.”
She noted that Bainbridge, Holy Names and Blanchet will provide the stiffest competition in the Mountain Division.
Eastside will play all it’s home games at Marymoor Park in Redmond this season. The Crusaders opened their season Wednesday against Rainier Beach and host Cleveland at 3:30 p.m., Friday.