Tahoma fastpitch eyes league crown

Tahoma’s softball seniors, Molly Lathrop, Courtney Cloud, Jena Waler and Amanda Allison, are ready to lead the Bears to their third straight state tournament appearance.  - Boomer Burnham, Boomer
Tahoma’s softball seniors, Molly Lathrop, Courtney Cloud, Jena Waler and Amanda Allison, are ready to lead the Bears to their third straight state tournament appearance.
— image credit: Boomer Burnham, Boomer's Photography

This is it. This is the year. Tahoma’s softball team is going to win the South Puget Sound League North division.

Team captains Courtney Cloud and Jena Waler believe the Bears have what it takes to bring home a league title after sharing it in 2010 and 2011 with Kentlake then finishing second to the Falcons in 2012.

“I have no doubt,” Cloud said. “I believe in every single one of these girls that we can do it and they all want it.”

With two straight state tournament trips under their belts, the Bears return the core of the 2012 team that finished 13-2 in league and 20-11 overall, however, they lost a significant chunk of offense to graduation: Hayley Beckstrom, who is now playing at Seattle University, and Jordan Walley, who is on an athletic scholarship with the Western Washington University softball team.

Tahoma has to fill the three and four spots in the line up, but Waler has been impressed with how her teammates have handled the pressure.

“When people see us, because we lost so many of our power hitters … they don’t see us as a threat,” Waler said. “People are stepping up and taking advantage of the fact those two seniors are gone and making it their time to shine. That surprised me that people were starting to step up.”

Cloud said Tahoma has a ton of potential in the players who return to varsity.

There are four seniors this season: Cloud, Waler, Amanda Allison and Molly Lathrop. A year ago Cloud hit .306 for the season, Waler was .264 with nine stolen bases, Allison’s batting average was .316 with 30 runs scored while Lathrop hit .328 with 25 runs scored and 26 stolen bases on 28 attempts.

Meanwhile, junior Halle Elliot hit .457 on the season with 35 runs scored with 27 stolen bases on 29 attempts and First Team honors as Designated Player a year ago.

Morgan Engelhardt, a junior infielder, hit .302 in 2012 with 16 RBIs and 12 stolen bases while junior catcher Bre West hit .358 with 26 RBIs and a dozen doubles and Second Team all league honors.

With that kind of offensive output in the lineup, both Waler and Cloud feel good about what the team can accomplish this season.

Waler believes the team will be strong for years to come with the talent level this year’s freshmen bring to the program.

“We’re going to come out and play our game,” Cloud said. “We’re going to play Tahoma softball. One, we’re going to take advantage of every situation we’re in. Two, we’re going to play hard. These girls … they know the game. Tahoma is filled with so much potential right now.”

Cloud added that the team is fast from the top of the lineup to the bottom.

As captains, Cloud and Waler have worked to fine tune things, too, in non-league games, hard work in practice and early league contests.

“We’ve been working on basically everybody doing their individual job and communicating on the field,” Cloud said. “Basically, working as one, like a machine.”

Another key, though, is how well the girls get along on and off the field.

“I love these girls,” Cloud said. “They all want the same thing (the seniors) do. They want to win. We’re a strong, developed team. I have so much faith in this team.”

Waler said one of the reasons behind the good chemistry has been the positive way Cloud leads.

“Courtney gives everyone a lot of good feedback which people need,” Waler said. “We’re pretty close as a team.”

In 2011, Tahoma went to state for the first time as a fastpitch program, having not made an appearance since the 1980s.

Cloud and Waler were sophomores. At the point, the Bears were a team on the rise.

Now, though, Tahoma’s program may be building a legacy of winning after struggling when Tom Milligan first took over nine seasons ago as head coach.

“The past two years we went to state,” Waler said. “We don’t want to stop that now. Courtney and I want to do that our senior year. We definitely have the hitting, the offense and the defense to help us win games. We clearly have what it takes to win league. We just have to put it together. We’re going to win league and we will go to state. We will keep up the tradition.”

If Cloud and Waler are right, this is it, this is Tahoma’s year to win the SPSPL North crown.


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