ARLINGTON — The girls have big shoes to fill in Arlington’s upcoming softball season. Last season, the Eagles went all the way, taking first place in the 4A State Tournament.
“Right now, we’re totally rebuilding,” Arlington head coach David Eng said. “The five seniors I lost last year were the main pitchers. They were also the top three-through-five batters, which represented 83 percent of my total offense.”
Eng said much of last season’s success had much to do with Arlington’s outstanding pitching done by the seniors. “It always starts with pitching,” Eng said. “If you looked at our record last year, out of 20 games, I think we had 13 games with zero runs we gave up.”
Arlington’s overall record last season was 23-3.
It will not be an easy task for the Eagles to repeat the previous season’s success. “The target is on their backs,” Eng said. “Everyone wants a piece of them. But they don’t realize it’s a totally different team.”
Eng has the intent of bringing his team back to Districts, but admitted the road will be challenging. “We’re going to teach them how to play as a team again,” Eng said. “They discovered this weekend, after the Jamboree, that it’s not as easy as they thought.
Eng said this season’s returning core of seniors will have to step up to prepare the junior varsity players. “We only brought back five seniors this year,” he said. “They will have to take the other eight players from last year, and try to groom them in a short nine weeks.”
Fortunately, the Eagles will be welcoming back some talent.
Senior Marissa Rathert will be returning this season, and if it wasn’t for Rathert, the Eagles’ appearance at the state tournament may have been all for naught.
Last season, Rathert made a game-saving catch which sealed Arlington as the State champions. “She’s a fabulous center fielder,” Eng said.
After breaking through the fence, Rathert caught the ball, tucked and tumbled, and came up with the catch.
“I knew it was going to be a really great fly, so I kept my glove back and went for it,” Rathert said, reflecting on her catch.
Rathert is excited for the team’s new setup for this season.
“I’m excited for this team to click,” Rathert said. “We have the components for a great team.”
Rathert said those components were a fusion of the players’ youth and experience.
“I’m excited to see what the younger girls are going to contribute to the team,” she said. “A lot of the girls are young, but they have a lot of softball in their history.”
Rathert will be appearing with four other promising seniors — Mikayla Brown, Kayalyn Meyers, Katelynn Kazen and Katelyn McDonald —to develop the younger players. “A lot of these players are going to go on and play for college,” Eng said. “McDonald is already verbal to Western Washington University.”
With five developed seniors and a promising bunch of younger players, Eng said he has much to look forward to.
“It’s a wonderful team, and they’re learning how to become a team,” Eng said. “The main thing is having fun and learning to play the game we love.”
On March 21, Arlington played Everett. The score was not available when the paper went to press. For other games and scores, visit the Arlington Times’ website at www.arlingtontimes.com.