Cardinal softball in familiar, comfortable hands
Blakely takes over coaching reigns from John Higgins
Tim Blakely is the new guy in the third base coach's box for Medical Lake softball.
A new, but familiar face will guide the Medical Lake softball team in 2014.
Longtime assistant, Tim Blakely, takes over for John Higgins who retired -again - following the conclusion of the 2013 season.
Two seniors, Hailey Cheevers and Shelby Pavao, return from the Medical Lake team that finished 7-11 in the Northeast A League and 9-14 overall. Jordyn Soliday, also a senior, joins the team from Liberty High.
Cheevers is in centerfield and is in her third year with the team. "She gives me 100 percent 100 percent of the time," Blakely said. Cheevers is "Our go-to girl in the outfield with great speed, and her bat's starting to come alive," Blakely said.
Pavao was in a half dozen games for the Cardinals in 2013 and will be the No. 1 pitcher this season. "She's increased some velocity on her fastball," Blakely said.
Medical Lake has one junior back in Chelsea Hamby.
"Last year she was our starting second baseman all year long. This year, depending who we've got on the mound she'll play second, first or the outfield," Blakely said. Hamby also carries a good bat.
Hamby and Cheevers are two players Blakely calls his team leaders.
Holly Marsh is coming out for the first time since middle school. "She was a track girl making that tough decision to come back to us," Blakely said. "She'll be a role player, do some base running for us, some defense. She's a great addition and we're glad to have her back."
Five sophomores dot the roster and include Bradyn Wegner who Blakely calls "pretty much our everyday second baseman." She proved her ability recently making a pair of unassisted double plays.
But Wegner is also a solid bat. "She's a good one in the batter's box for us,"
Kayla Pruitt started at shortstop in 2013 as a freshman. "She did a good job for us last year," Blakely said. She may have been a little intimidated last year but that's not the case this year. She's hitting either in the No. 4 or 5 spot.
Claire Dormaier has been at shortstop and catcher. Dormaier has been solid on the field, "And her bat has started to pick up for us."
Kayla Pruitt's cousin, Katelyn, is a first-time varsity player who has a great bat and plays third base.
Rachel Stanfill is 75 percent of the time the Cardinals' No. 1 catcher. "I would have to say she is one of the best defensive catchers we have in the league," Blakely said. "Not very many balls get by her," and she's gunned out a number of players trying to steal.
Blakely has four freshmen - Sarah Mayer, Taylor Pavao, Makayla Tamietti and Alex Steinmetz - who can play at anytime, he said. "We're not losing any consistency."
Taylor Pavao is a true utility player as a pitcher infielder and outfielder, plus, "She's a great leader even as a freshman."
Steinmetz and Mayer will both play first base and some outfield when the timing allows. "They're wanting to get in and mix it up wherever they can,' Blakely said.
Tamietti has great speed and a solid glove and is showing improvement at the plate. All four freshmen players will split time between varsity and junior varsity.
Glori Cheevers, another freshman, is in a different role as the starting third baseman. "She's a Hoover over there at third base," Blakely said. But Cheevers also has a formidable bat, too, he said.
Blakely has also coached the Medical Lake summer-league team and he's seeing the dividends pay off for his team he said.
Blakely has two new assistant coaches. Mae Larimer has been a big help with what Blakely called "skills and drills." Larimer will try to take years of playing the game and transfer that knowledge to teaching.
John Robinson, "a converted baseball guy," as Blakely describes his second assistant, loves the fast pace found in softball.
"With those two additions, and myself, I think we'll be able to get these kids competing and having a successful squad," Blakely said.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.