Summer league softball began for the Blaine Force at Bender fields in Lynden on July 21.
Blaine softball coach Tim Esposito will get a better idea of what the makeup of his team will look like over the next few years as summer play continues this week through a 12-game schedule.
The Force are a combined team of varsity returnees, freshman hopefuls and upstart middle schoolers.
“We are going to be really young next year,” noted Esposito as the Force was enduring an especially long top of the first inning in their opener against Lynden. Behind sophomore starter Ashley Bolick, the defense committed six errors in the inning, spotting Lynden nine runs in a 10-4 loss.
In the twilight double-header, the Force rallied for four runs in the top of the fifth to log a 6-5 come from behind victory over Bellingham. Bailey Foster’s RBI single tied the game and then Foster scored the winning run on Bolick’s single.
For Esposito, his assignment to follow up consecutive state tournament bids will be tested by an unprecedented youth movement for the Borderites.
With the graduations of ace Caitlin Dudley, Tyler Trueblood and Kailynn Aiken among others, the Borderites will enter play in 2010 without any starting seniors.
“We didn’t have any juniors turn out at all,” said Esposito. Esposito’s biggest concerns are team speed and defense. Bolick will be the primary starting pitcher, but who will step up into the relief roles is still unknown.
Foster took a three-inning stint and was roughed up by Meridian the following night.
Bolick, a left-hander, is a decidedly different pitcher than the powerful Dudley whom she succeeds. Her fastball is not nearly as fast but she is crafty and can locate her pitches. She allowed only one earned run in two games on Thursday’s opening night.
Junior Natalee Sellers is the top returning hitter from last year. Support could come from junior Alyssa Southland who had two hits and two RBIs on opening night. However, defense will be foremost on Esposito’s plan.
The Force surrendered 14 unearned runs in the first two games on an avalanche of errors. Despite the difficult start, the Force are 3-3 through the first half of the games, which resume July 27-29 with double-headers of five inning games each night.
It is an opportunity to see the next generation of Borderite softball for years to come.