Success and the Issaquah fastpitch team are synonymous. Eight of the last 11 seasons, including the last three, the Eagles have advanced to the state tournament.
There’s one thing, however, that continues to escape their grasp — a placement. Issaquah’s only top-four finish came during the Eagles’ first trip to state in 1998, when they captured second.
“I’d like to place at state this year, and I think the kids really would too,” said head coach Jim Magnuson, noting they have lost to two-time defending 3A state champion Kennedy in the first round the last two years.
Issaquah certainly returns the weapons to get back to state and make some noise. The Eagles have seven seniors, all who have a shot at becoming the first softball players in school history to go to state four straight years.
Catcher Molly Nelson leads that group. She finished last season as the co-MVP of the KingCo 3A. First baseman Kenna Olsen, a University of North Dakota recruit, also returns serious power to the lineup. Center fielder Kelly Richards had six triples last season, and pitcher Brianna Bray won a handful of games. Other seniors returning include third baseman Tanika Ladd, second baseman Sarah Sekijima and left fielder Kim Sekijima.
“It should be a fun year to finish with them,” Magnuson said. “They’ve been to the show three times, baby.”
Along with senior leadership, the Eagles also bring back their top pitcher from last year, junior Mikenzie Voves. She won 10 games for Issaquah.
Other key components returning to this year’s team include sophomore shortstop Amanda Marques and junior utility players Chelsea Pearth and Martina Young.
Issaquah also gains some young talent, including freshman pitcher Brielle Bray.
With Voves and the Bray sisters, Magnuson feels confident in what his team brings to the pitching circle, but also has to find time for all of them.
“It’s a good complication to have,” he laughed.
Defensively, the Eagles also appear strong. They graduated their top shortstop Kylei Rosselot and second baseman Molly Morey, but Magnuson expects his team fill the voids nicely.
“We have really good speed in the outfield and our infield will be real tight again,” he said.
Issaquah enters the new KingCo 4A division this year where it will face old foes Newport and Skyline, and new teams like Redmond and Eastlake. There will be some unknowns, but Magnuson said he doesn’t think there will be too much variation.
“There’s not a whole lot of difference between 3A and 4A,” he said. “They all have pretty good pitchers, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Issaquah was scheduled to play two games earlier in the week, and hosts former KingCo 3A foe Mount Si at 4 p.m., Friday.