Mavericks motivated to get back to state tournament | Softball

Junior Houghton is one of league’s top pitchers
By David Pan | Mar 14, 2019
Photo by: David R Pan Meadowdale junior Kate Houghton pitches during Saturday’s jamboree at Lynnwood High School. Houghton earned first-team, all-league honors last season.

Meadowdale is on a mission.

After making six straight appearances at the state softball tournament, the Mavericks came up a game short at last year’s district playoffs.

The memory of the loss to Marysville-Pilchuck in a winner-to-state/loser-out game provides ample motivation for the returning players.

“It was really disappointing for us, knowing that we were there our freshman year,” said junior shortstop Kelci Studioso. “There were little things that we could have fixed that could have got us there, but it just didn’t happen.”

Jaislyn Hart, the lone senior on the roster, has followed Meadowdale since her older sister played for the team and wasn’t happy the way the season ended.

“Starting that streak back my senior year will be great,” Hart said.

Meadowdale appears to be well positioned to achieve that goal with the return of junior pitcher Kate Houghton, a first-team, all-Wesco 3A South selection.

Houghton handled most of the pitching duties and is expected to do the same this season with a little help from Studioso and sophomore Taylor Eskew.

“She’ll be the workhorse this year,” Meadowdale coach Dennis Hopkins said. “I think she’s come in stronger than she was last year. She’s more determined. She wants to get the team back to state.”

Houghton has focused on building stamina for what will be a heavy workload.

“I’m feeling really good,” she said. “I’m feeling really confident with our team and what we can do.”

That confidence extends to a new addition to the team, freshman catcher Sophia Ward. While Ward is new to most of the team, she and Houghton have a little bit of history.

“Our moms were actually friends in high school,” Houghton said. “It’s kind of weird. It’s cool that I get to play with her since I’ve known her for a while. I’m pretty confident with what she can do.”

Ward also has impressed her other teammates.

“She works really hard,” Studioso said. “She’s just very talented. She’s can catch. She can hit. She can do anything.”

The rest of the infield with the exception of second base are all returning starters – Studioso at shortstop, junior Olivia Dimmock at third base and junior Kaitlynn Bridgewater at first base.

“I think our defense will be super good,” Houghton said. “They’re picking up things pretty fast and making a bunch of good plays in practice.”

The lineup in the outfield was still yet to be determined as the wet weather has hampered some of the coaching staff’s opportunities to evaluate the players’ skills.

Meadowdale kept 15 players on varsity, including three freshmen.

“With the weather it’ s hard to tell what we have,” Hopkins said. “But we’re confident we’ll be fairly solid.”

Lower overall numbers at turnouts resulted in Meadowdale not fielding a junior varsity team. District rival Edmonds-Woodway also does not have a JV squad, joining a number of other schools, including 4A state runner-up Monroe, Shorecrest and Mariner.

Though the Mavericks had not done a lot of offensive work, Hopkins has a feeling they might have a little more speed than last year.

“We’re pretty fast,” he said.
Houghton said that consistency and discipline at the plate is important.

“Hitting is our biggest focus,” she said. “Just hitting base hits constantly and not trying to hit a home run every single game.”

The Mavericks want to get the offense rolling early in the season and come out strong in league play. Some losses at the start of the season eventually came back to haunt the Mavericks, who finished second in the league, a game behind league champion Edmonds-Woodway.

“I think last year we struggled at the beginning getting our bats going, so that will be key,” Studioso said.

“They realized that losses at the beginning of the year is where we lost it, not so much at districts,” Hopkins said. “A couple of games at the beginning would have seeded us better going into districts.”

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