The Blaine High School softball team finished out the 2012 season with plenty of reasons for optimism. Photo by Janell Kortlever.
That’s all that stood between the Blaine softball team and qualifying for districts. Most teams wouldn’t call it a good season, but this team is different.
“In a way it’s disappointing,” co-captain Yvonne Alvarez said. “But it wasn’t a personal goal of mine to go to districts. I wanted to have fun with the team and learn how to play the game with them.”
The Borderites had a few serious losses this year, but that didn’t keep them from pulling together. It lost its normal starting pitcher to a season-long injury, thrusting sophomore Lexi McElwain into the spotlight. It later lost another player to a collapsed lung midway through the season, and it also lost eight of its ten games to start the season. But none of that could keep them down.
“We had been hurt with injuries all season,” McElwain said. “We all just put in that extra effort to improve, and we did. Overall I am really happy with how well we finished for being such a young team.”
The Borderites went on to win four out of 10 games to finish the season, ending with a 5-8 record in conference, and 6-14 overall. If Blaine had beaten Sehome in their game during the season, the teams would have switched spots and Blaine would have qualified for districts.
“I am disappointed we didn’t make it,” said Natalee Sellers, the other co-captain. “But I was happy with the way the season ended. The team is going to be really good in the years to come.”
Blaine will only be graduating two seniors, both co-captains, but will return a young and experienced team. Head coach Alisa Burk said she is really excited about the team next year.
“I think I am more excited about this upcoming team than I have been about any team in the past,” Burk said. “We will be getting all of our pitchers back, and they have all improved a lot. We were really young this year, but it is going to be a lot of fun to watch the team grow up and play together in the next few years.”
The team had three freshmen and a handful of sophomores, creating the need for leadership. Alvarez and Sellers were co-captains who filled that need, but they had very different roles on the team.
“Natalee is one of the best players I have ever played with, she is good on offense and good on defense,” McElwain said. “Yvonne was the glue that held us together, she brought unity to the team.”
Alvarez was more of a vocal leader on the team and Sellers led more by example.
Sellers moved from being the catcher to playing in the infield, giving her a chance to interact more with the team, but also forcing her to work hard during the season.
“I have been playing my whole life so it was a little weird at first to move, but I loved being able to talk with the girls out there,” Sellers said. “I was also able to give guidance to the younger girls.”
Sellers batted fourth in the line-up, a spot usually reserved for the best batter.
“Natalee is one of our better bats,” Burk said. “But we could hit one through nine, that was our strong point.”
The team will be moving down to 1A next year, giving them an easier path to the post season.
“It will be good for the team,” Sellers said. “But there are some really good schools down there, so you can’t just look over them because of their size.”
With the team moving down a classification, and returning most of their players, things are looking up for Blaine softball.
“We have a lot of talent,” McElwain said. “And we are getting some really good freshmen next year. I think we are going to be really good in the next few years and are going to continue to improve.”