SEATTLE – As the Huskies prepare for the 2014 softball season, they do so with a veteran team, led by seniors Kaitlin Inglesby, Victoria Hayward, Bryana Walker, Hooch Fagaly, Marki Creger-Zier, Whitney Jones, and Kelli Suguro. But the team is also bolstered by five newcomers, who are all looking to make an impact of their own.
The Huskies welcome five new players to the team this season: junior college transfer Hailey Bator, and freshmen Ali Aguilar, Kimberlee Myers, Bridget Raftery, and Rylleigh Zbaraschuk.
Between the five newcomers, they have been named two-time All-American at the junior college level, won state championships at the high school level, been named to their respective all-state teams numerous times and even been selected as the player and freshmen of the year for the state of California by the Sacramento Bee.
|Last School: Wenatchee Valley College|
|Hometown: Cle Elum, Wash.|
Awards & Accolades: 2-time All-American at Wenatchee Valley...2-time NWAACC Eastern Region Most Valuable Pitcher...2013 NWAACC/ Baden Sports Player of the Year (Softball)...2013 NWAACC Eastern Region Most Valuable Pitcher...Led Wenatchee Valley to 2013 NWAACC Championship with a record of 26-0 and a 0.95 ERA...Also hit .362 at the plate with 34 RBI.
Bator on what being a Husky means to her: “It’s just trying to carry on the legacy that’s been placed here. It’s not a very old program, but there’s so much history there already, and there’s just so much you can help carry on.”
Bator comes to Washington from Wenatchee Valley College, where she led the Knights to the 2013 NWAACC championship.
The ace pitcher on the Knights, Bator finished the 2013 campaign with a record of 26-0 with a 0.95 ERA and 284 strikeouts over 162 innings in 26 starts. After her stellar season, Bator was named NWAACC Eastern Region Most Valuable Pitcher of the Year for the second year in a row. She also hit .362 at the plate with 34 RBI, earning Most Valuable Player of the Year honors for the NWAACC Eastern Region. Bator was also named the 2013 NWAACC/ Baden Sports Player of Year for softball.
“She’s very competive,” said Shelly Pflugrath, Bator’s coach at Wenatchee Valley for two season. “She’s got that inner perfectionism that you have to have to be successful.”
A native of Cle Elum, Washington, Bator has long dreamed of playing college softball at the highest level.
“When Coach Tarr called me, I came up on a visit, and I just knew it was opportunity that I couldn’t turn down, because it’s obviously every girl’s dream to play D-1 softball,” Bator said.
|High School: Casa Roble|
|Hometown: Orangevale, Calif.|
Awards & Accolades: 2013 All-Metro Softball Player of the Year (Sacramento Bee)...2013 Cal-Hi All-State First Team (Sacramento Bee)...2010 Cal-Hi State Softball Freshman of the Year (Sacramento Bee)...2-time league MVP...3-year captain at Casa Roble.
|Aguilar on why she chose Washington: “It’s always been a goal and a dream to play in the Pac-12, so that really drew me in. Seeing the team, their chemistry and how they took care of each other, how they were like a family. I knew the school was really good, but looking at the softball program, everything about it drew me in. I know we can compete to win a national championship.”|
Aguilar comes to Washington after a decorated career as an infielder for Casa Roble High School in Orangevale, California. Aguilar lettered all four seasons at Casa Roble, earning league the MVP award twice. A three-year captain, Aguilar was twice honored by the Sacramento Bee, first as Cal-Hi State Freshman of the Year in 2010 and again as the softball Player of the Year in 2013.
Aguilar believes she is in the best position to maximize her talents, as she learns under the coaching staff of head coach Heather Tarr and assistant coaches J.T. D’Amico, Lance Glasoe, and Brad Ditter.
“With Coach Tarr, It’s all about getting better, not just as a player, but as a person,” Aguilar said. “It’s all about always working to be the best person you can be and the best player, all-around.”
|High School: Casa Grande Union|
|Hometown: Casa Grande, Arizona|
Awards & Accolades: 4-time all-state selection...2010 East Valley Player of the Year (East Valley Tribune)...Graduated from Casa Grande Union 6th in her class.
Myers on her favorite thing about being a Husky: “I love the family atmosphere, how every sport pulls for every sport. Our teammates are there for each other. The coaches are there for you. The strength and conditioning coach is there for you. Definitely the family atmosphere."
Myers, an infielder from Casa Grande Union High School in Casa Grande, Arizona, was selected to the all-state times four times and was named East Valley Player of the Year as a freshman in 2010. Myers graduated 6th in her class and is interested in pursuing a career in nursing.
“The atmosphere, the tradition, the history,” Myers said of why she chose to come to Washington. “I knew the coaching staff could make me the best player that I want to be. I knew that the university could make me the best student, person and athlete possible. I want to be a nurse, and they have the no.1 program in the nation.”
|High School: Newport|
|Hometown: Bellevue, Wash.|
Awards & Accolades: 3-time all-league selection...3-year captain...Led Newport to its first state appearance in school history her senior year.
Raftery on what being a Husky means to her: “Being a Husky means being passionate. It means giving 100 percent in everything you do, whether it’s just picking up balls in the outfield or cheering on a teammate or doing your homework. It’s just being passionate and giving it your all.”
Raftery, a catcher from Newport High School in Bellevue, Washington, led Newport to their first state appearance her senior year. Raftery, whose father played baseball at Washington, was a 3-time all-league selection and was team captain for three years.
For Raftery, the decision to become a Husky was not a difficult one.
“I chose Washington because I’ve grown up watching the team play my entire life,” Raftery said. “I bleed purple and gold. They have the best academics and athletics in the country.”
|High School: Sequim|
|Hometown: Sequim, Wash.|
Awards & Accolades: Led Sequim to 2 state appearances, including its first state title in school history in 2010...Co-league MVP her senior year...4-year letter winner in softball and volleyball at Sequim...2-year letter winner in basketball.
Zbaraskchuk on why she chose Washington: “This has been my dream school since I started playing softball. I came to all the camps. I came to the games. When I started coming to the camps, I realized that the players are always there. They’re always going to be there for you. The whole team is a family.”
Zbaraschuk, an outfielder from Sequim High School in Sequim, Washington, helped her school to two state appearances, including the state championship in 2011 as a sophomore. Zbaraschuk shared league MVP honors with a teammate her senior year. She earned four letters in softball, as well as four in volleyball and two in basketball.
When she steps onto the field at Husky Softball Stadium for the first time, Zbaraschuk said she will be excited not only to suit up for Washington, but to give back to her parents.
“I’m actually really excited to let my parents see what they have been able to do for me for the last 18 years,” Zbaraschuk said. “They drove me to games and practices and everything. Now it’s a reward for them to be able to just sit and soak it all in.”
The first opportunity for fans to watch the newcomers and the entire Washington softball team play will be October 4, as the Huskies host the three-day, six-team Fall Classic at Husky Softball Stadium.
The Huskies open play on Friday at 6:30 p.m. against Bellevue. They continue play with a pair of games both Saturday and Sunday. The Huskies play Seattle U at 3:00 p.m. and face Wenatchee Valley at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Then Sunday, they take on Central Washington at 3:00 p.m. and wrap up the tournament against Western Washington at 5:00 p.m. Admission is $16 for a weekend pass, $7 for a day pass, and $5 for children under 12. Students are admitted with valid student ID. For full schedule information, click here.
On Saturday, the Huskies will be wearing pink jerseys that will later be featured in a silent auction. All funds raised from the silent auction will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which has donated over $7 million to cancer researchers at UW Medical Center and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. For more information on the auction, click here.