ARLINGTON — The Lady Eagles fast pitch softball team is getting ready for their upcoming season — with a new coach, new players and another chance at making it to state.
Dan Eng coached the Eagles softball team three years ago, bringing them to a third-place finish in the Wesco North in 2010 and within one win of state, and he has returned to the school to coach again for the 2013 season.
“The seniors I have now were the freshmen I was coaching back then,” said Eng. “I retired a couple years ago but my energy was okay. My wife saw the opening and I decided to go ahead and reapply.”
The team will have a chance to make it state again this year, with nine returners, strong senior leaders and promising newcomers.
“I lost three last year and two of them were middle infielders,” said Eng. “We’ve got to start rebuilding the infield this year.”
There are several freshmen and sophomores who are showing promise and may replace some of the seniors lost to graduation.
“One is a sophomore, Katelyn Myers, who played quite a bit of JV last year and moved up at the end of the season,” said Eng. “She is probably going to fill my shortstop position. She is going to be a great shortstop. She is also a pitcher, so next year after Ronnie [Ladines] leaves she could move up to pitch.”
Ladines is recovering from a broken finger suffered during her basketball season. The cast that wraps her index and middle fingers will be removed on March 14, and she’ll be ready to get back to practice.
“I think we have a lot of talent, a lot of young talent,” said Ladines. “I am really looking forward to this season. One of my biggest goals is to make it to state, and I think with the talent that we have, we stand a good shot.”
“She is my captain and she was last year’s captain,” said Eng. “She is such a great leader and she’s chomping at the bit right now. Being an athlete, she just wants to play, so sitting on the sidelines is killing her. She is such a dominant pitcher.”
“My catcher is Lynsey Amundsen, another senior who is very strong. That’s important, the pitcher and the catcher dynamic for the communication. I’ve also got Kate McDonald, a junior who was all-league first team last year. She is a great hitter and has a solid glove at first. And of course, the Fields girls, Hayley and Hayden. They are solid and stable and they can play multiple positions. They are solid with their gloves. Those are all probably the top five hitters as well. All five of them are going to be the force.”
McDonald is hoping that they can come together as a team and make it to state again this year, like they did in 2011 when she was a freshman.
“I think we are coming out a lot stronger and better as a team,” she said. “Surprisingly there are a ton of freshmen that I didn’t know about until tryouts. As a freshman, I went to state and hopefully we can make it there again.”
Eng has high hopes for the Eagles this season.
“Teams always need to work on their game, not just the physical part but the mental part which is the most important,” he said. “I hope that Arlington will be Wesco North champs, and I hope we are one of the top teams at districts and regionals to make a run at going to state.”
The Lady Eagles face Everett in an away game on Friday, March 15.