Young Huskies Look To Get Back To WCWS
Jan. 12, 2012
SEATTLE - The UW softball team has recently begun spring practices and is working towards their goal of making it back to the Women's College World Series and ultimately winning another National Championship. This year's seniors were freshmen when the team won their last National Championship in 2009 and they would love nothing more than to lead their team back to this coveted spot.
"We are eager to be back in action preparing for the 2012 season," said head coach, Heather Tarr, in her eighth season at her alma mater. "Our schedule brings a lot of opportunity to learn and improve as we are matched up against a number of top 10 softball teams."
Sophomore pitcher Kaitlin Inglesby agrees saying, "We are trying to get back into the groove and feel each other out. We've been apart for the past month, so [we're] just getting our chemistry back and getting a feel for things and [seeing] what we need to work on."
"Mentally, [this year is] easier," Inglesby said about her second year on the team. "I know what's expected of me and that I need to do more. I'm learning to pace myself and mentally preparing with the little things every day to be where I need to be for our first game."
Tarr adds, "We feel really good about our fall season. Playing the NPF All Stars at the end of October gave us a good indication of where our pitching is at and where our three freshmen infielders are at. Although we lost that game 1-0, our defense was a huge factor in keeping the score to one run."
"We learned a lot," Inglesby says of fall ball. "Our chemistry, pushing our team values, knowing that we are going to be great, but we have to do the required things to get there in June. We have goals so we want to hit those goals."
About the younger infield and the work the infield position players have put in so far, senior Niki Williams commented, "In the fall, we were short a couple players with injuries, but our pitching staff has been really working hard, pitching every day, and I think that alone is going to help us tremendously. Also, [we're] just getting our rookies to know that the game is a lot faster. They did a great job, but [we're] just getting everybody on the same page and ready to go."
Tarr is excited to see the seniors step up as leaders and the freshmen learn the Husky way and step up in their own right. "Niki Williams and Kimi Pohlman return to our offensive line-up as seniors. The experience gained last year by Kaitlin Inglesby and Victoria Hayward is a plus, as are the three freshmen who will challenge for starting time, Kimberlee Souza, Courtney Gano, and Kylee Lahners. The re-entry of Hooch Fagaly into our offense will be key, in addition to her being back at first-base leading our infield, along with junior catcher Shawna Wright."
Tarr credits their future success to the depth of their young pitching staff saying, "Our team improved in many facets this off-season. Our young pitching staff has more depth than we've had in the past five years with sophomores Kaitlin Inglesby, Bryana Walker, and Whitney Jones along with senior Jenna Clifton and freshman Kasey Stanchek."
Inglesby said, "[The freshmen] are so willing to learn and so optimistic. They know they have big shoes to fill and they are doing a good job of everything they are asked. They are learning and their hard work is going to show."
This is an important year for the team as the class that were freshmen on the 2009 National Championship team are now seniors, providing the last tie between that title and the team. This year's seniors hope to lead their team to a similar outcome in 2012.
For Williams, being a senior means, "mentally, just being that person that my team can look up to." She continues, "In previous years, we've had big names here, Jenn [Salling], Danielle [Lawrie] and Ashley [Charters]. I feel like now it's time where I really have to take on that role and lead this team where we want to go."
"Luckily, our young freshmen have really adjusted to this program pretty quickly, but just taking each day we have and just working together," is the best way for the team to prepare for the postseason beginning now, according to Williams. "[We have] a plan every day and [are] not really coming out and going through the motions, [... we're] doing what we need to do, and working on the things that we individually need to do to get better as a team as well."
Inglesby adds, "These seniors are our last class that has won a National Championship, so they still have so much to show us and teach us. They are doing a great job with their leadership and showing us that, to win a National Championship, you have to work harder and be efficient, resilient, and versatile with how you work. It's been great. I feel like I'm learning a lot but there is still so much. I want to be a National Champion because I want to embody the characteristics they have taught me."
"Ever since we got back from Missouri last year, Oklahoma City has been in the back of my head nonstop," Inglesby said. "Knowing that last year, I was a year away and now six months away, I feel like I'm so much stronger than I was when I finished the season last year. Mentally, I'm in a different state. I'm not a freshman anymore. I'm not just trying to get by, I'm trying to dominate. It's a different mindset and good experience. Last year it was very much just [getting] through this game and get to the next and now it's my turn to dominate. Last year I didn't know what it meant to lead, and this year, I feel like the seniors taught me so much and I'm ready to accept that role and carry it with the new mindset."