Sports

Lakewood softball returns three of top four batters from 2010

Lakewood softball coach Steve Barker, left, calls out a color while tossing a pair of balls for a hitting drill to help his players work on adjusting their swing. - Travis Sherer
Lakewood softball coach Steve Barker, left, calls out a color while tossing a pair of balls for a hitting drill to help his players work on adjusting their swing.
— image credit: Travis Sherer

LAKEWOOD — With a number of key players returning, the Cougars softball team is ready to climb up the Cascade Conference standings in 2012.

"The talent level has definitely gone up this year," said Cougars coach Steve Barker.

With an ample freshman class coming in, the Cougars will bring back a pair of all-conference juniors in shortstop Arianna Barrio (first team) and Cheyenne Wilson (second team).

"We have returned a nucleus of our offense, and I think we'll be able to score more runs with Arianna leading off," said Barker.

Wilson will move to catcher this season to become half of a battery with Courtney Fritz.

"We've got one veteran pitcher, but there are a pair of freshmen pitchers that might be able to make an impact early, we'll have to see," Barker said.

Also returning will be Alexa Chase at first base while Makayla Holmes will play second base and senior captain Mariah Smith will keep her position in center field.

Around the conference, everybody has been looking up to Granite Falls, which went 18-0 last season, and Barker said that is likely to continue.

"They are the team to beat until somebody proves that they can beat them," he said. "There were three teams at 11-7 behind them, so that shows the next level. I think we're at that level."

Those next three teams include South Whidbey, Archbishop Murphy and Cedarcrest.

The Cougars finished their season 7-11 in 2010, and Barker said he sees his team's advantage of speed as a difference maker.

"Speed and defense are our strengths," he said. "I think we'll be able to keep them from scoring in the field."

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