Softball preview | Skyline returns experienced, hungry team

New Skyline softball coach Duane Witter couldn’t pass the situation up.

New Skyline softball coach Duane Witter couldn’t pass the situation up.

He already commuted daily from Bremerton to Tukwila for his job — so it was nothing to tack on an additional 25 miles to coach the Spartans.

“I’m getting used to it, it’s a nice drive,” Witter laughed.

Experience and an influx of new talent have also helped the first-year head coach adjust to a 160-plus mile round-trip commute.

“We have some big bats that are coming and we’ve acquired some speed that we didn’t have last year,” he said. “Some players have transferred into the local area here as well as some freshmen are coming in. That’s a plus. I think I’ll be blessed.”

Skyline returns three seniors who saw significant playing time last year, including Lindsey Kim (OF), Ashley Smiley(P/IF) and Elaina Shawver (IF). A large group of juniors also return including pitcher Lauren Richards, who had seven wins last season and was second-team all-KingCo. Junior Lauren Wolfe, who started at catcher, will come back behind home plate.

Sophomore Lindsay Nicholson (IF) was named second-team all-league as a freshman, hitting .420. Fellow speedy sophomore Brittanee Randle also returns.

“We’ve got a good combination of both speed and power,” Witter said. “The nice thing I like about it is that we’ve had a great turnout and we’ve got a great JV team that’s coming up. I’ve got about three or four kids off the bat that I could pull up for speed and bats also.”

Other veteran players returning include juniors Emily Baer, Elizabeth Stromquist and Anya Kamber. Senior Amy Ziegler and sophomore Amanda Nemiroff, a transfer from Arizona, are also expected to make immediate impacts.

Witter, who spent last year assisting the Ferris High School fastpitch team in Spokane, said he likes the camaraderie he’s seen with his new team.

“I think the team has blended really good,” he said. “Most of these girls have played together for extended periods of time. That’s another thing that makes my job a lot easier.”

Last year’s Skyline team finished with a 17-11 record and one win away from the class 3A state tournament. Witter knows the KingCo 4A will be no easy task to conquer, but he likes the attitude the team is bringing to the field.

“They’ve got a little redemption, a little fire in their bellies — something to prove,” he said.

Coming into a new league, Witter hopes to surprise a few teams along the way, and finish in playoff position.

“I think we’ll be kind of a darkhose and maybe sneak up on people,” he said.

Skyline was scheduled to start its season this week with home games against Kentwood and Tahoma.