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Softball still rules for former Bears
The Tahoma High School fastpitch team has competed in the state tournament four years in a row. But it hasn’t always been that way.
The Bears burgeoning success started with a group of five freshmen who jumped directly onto the varsity squad in 2007. By 2011, the girls led the school to its first ever fastpitch state tournament, losing in extra innings of the second round.
The prep experience fostered even more success, with 10 athletes from that state qualifying team that have moved on to play collegiate softball, and another who is on her way.
“I knew what caliber of kids we had at that point and potentially where they were going to go,” said Tahoma head coach Tom Milligan. “It doesn’t surprise me seeing what they are doing.”
Emily Miller played two years of Division I ball at Towson University before transferring last year to Utah Valley University as a junior. She was a co-captain of the Tigers her sophomore year, the school’s second youngest ever captain.
“It was awesome,” she said. “I got to play a lot of big schools. It is a full time job. A lot of the friendships I created will be life long.”
Milligan said that while earning the college degree is of utmost importance, participating in sport helps build relationships with teammates and other players all across the country.
“That’s kind of what makes it fun,” he said.
Miller agreed, saying the busy sports schedule helped her grow as a person. Now that she is out of the game, she feels the energy missing from her life.
“I miss it like crazy, every day,” she said. “I plan on coaching at some point. I hope to stay involved for sure.”
Lisa Maulden is in her third season with Seattle University after walking on to the team two weeks before college started.
“I definitely would have regretted it if I hadn’t,” she said. “I don’t know what I’d been doing.”
Miller has nothing but fond memories for the trailblazing 2011 Bears, many of whom she still keeps contact with.
“That team will never be topped for me just because we all grew up playing together,” she said. “Those girls are like my sisters... We kind of kickstarted that whole (state) thing.”
Milligan said he stays in touch with members of the 2011 team and is happy to see them continuing with the sport. He has trouble comparing all of his squads.
“I can’t say that 2011 was better than 2014,” Milligan said. “They’ve all got something different that makes them unique.”
Though the Bears will lose four seniors from the 2014 team, Milligan is hopeful about continuing the state tourney ride.
“I’ve had a pretty lucky draw of having some freshman or some returning players from the JV team,” he said. “You think you are losing four, but you are gaining five. Then it is, ‘how did we all of the sudden get stronger?’”
Tahoma sluggers playing college ball
• Emily Miller (2011) — Played two years at Towson University, being named co-captain in 2012, before transferring to Utah Valley University.
• Shelby Carter (2011) — Spent two seasons playing for Northern Idaho, where she was named Offensive Player of the Year in 2012. She transferred to Tennessee Chattanooga, where she started eight games in 2014.
• Sammii Jimenez (2011) — In her third year playing for Texas Southern University.
• Lisa Maulden (2011) — Named First Team All-WAC in her third year at Seattle University. She batted .359 with seven home runs in 2014.
• Kiley Dunn (2011) — Hit .337 in 25 games for Golden West Community College after transferring from Yakima Valley Community College.
• Hayley Beckstrom (2012) — Started 33 games in her second year playing for Seattle University.
• Jordan Walley (2012) — First-team Great Northwest Athletic Conference all-star as a freshman in 2013 for Western Washington University.
• Courtney Cloud (2013) — Has batted .337 over 62 games for Western Nebraska Community College.
• Molly Lathrop (2013) — Started five games for Willamette University in 2014.
• Amanda Allison (2013) — Utility player for Pierce College in 2014.
• Morgan Engelhardt (2014) — Signed a letter of intent in January to play for Pima Community College.