By Oliver Lazenby
A lot about the Blaine girls’ varsity softball team is new. The team’s top pitcher has little experience in the position, a few key players are playing new positions and there’s a new head coach.
“There’s going to be some moving parts in places and kids are going to have to step up for us,” said new head coach Nancy Williams.
Williams has a simple goal in mind for the team: win the games they’re “supposed to win” and be competitive against tougher teams.
At its season opener against Lynden – one of the conference’s biggest competitors – Blaine gave up 10 runs in the first inning and couldn’t recover as Lynden cruised to a 14–2 victory. Lynden placed second in the 2A Northwest Conference last season with a 10–3 record (Blaine’s record was 4–9).
But aside from the first inning, Blaine did play competitively, Williams said, attributing the poor inning to first-game jitters. Blaine scored on hits by Karin Wildermuth and Sonya Reyes.
“The defense started to come around and make plays and we got out of a couple innings,” she said. “That is what we are going to have to do more consistently if we plan to win games.”
The game was Taylor Miller’s first as a pitcher for Blaine’s varsity team. Miller is also a centerfielder, Blaine’s leadoff hitter, and an all-around team leader, Williams said. Miller hadn’t pitched before, but the team had few options.
“She’s going to have to be on the mound for us most of the time. She’s willing to step up for the team and do that,” Williams said. “It’s a huge commitment. I have a lot of respect for her for stepping up as a teammate in that way.”
Caitie Butters will also lead the team, Williams said. Miller and Butters, along with Mikayla Johnson are Blaine’s players to watch at bat.
The team made changes around the infield, with some returning varsity players taking on new positions to fill gaps.
Being the new head coach hasn’t been tough, Williams said. She coached the JV team for the past three years and she’s coached other sports at Blaine middle and high schools for the past six years. She’s also a P.E. teacher in the district.
“It doesn’t seem to have been a difficult adjustment,” she said. “The kids know my coaching style, they know my personality, so there’s no surprises.”
Blaine plays next at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15 at Mount Baker High School.