No conference at the 2A level — or maybe any level — of softball last season had a stronger showing at the 2A state playoffs in Selah than the Evergreen Conference.
Tumwater battled its way to a state championship, throttling Othello in the championship game 13-3, after defeating rival W.F. West in the state semifinals in extra innings.
The Bearcats, suffering just one defeat all tournament long to the Thunderbirds, ran through just about every other opponent to finish third.
The EvCo’s other state participant, Rochester, finished one game short of the trophy round after falling to W.F. West in the consolation semifinals, and only dropping one other game at the tournament to Lynden.
In 2023, expect each of those teams to make some noise again as they look to again show out on the state stage in Selah this spring.
The defending state champion T-Birds are likely the favorite once again to win the league as they return ace Ella Ferguson to the circle and talented infielder Kylie Waltermeyer. The Thunderbirds won the league championship a year ago, before falling to W.F. West in a dramatic district title tilt at Rec Park in Chehalis.
Those two will again battle atop of the league standings, with the Bearcats having to do a bit of reloading in the circle. Graduating stalwart in the circle Kamy Dacus — who pitched almost every inning of every game for W.F. West each of the last four years — the Bearcats will look to a new pitching staff to carry them forward in the new year.
Staysha Fluetsch has made a good early impression in the circle as the elder statesman of the group, but Ella Young and Monroe Dalrymple will also feature on the rubber this season for W.F. West. Behind them, the Bearcats have one of the most experienced infields in the state, headlined by sophomore shortstop Avalon Myers, senior second baseman Brielle Etter, and power-hitting first baseman Savannah Hawkins.
That group also leads one of the most ferocious lineups in the state in the batter’s box.
Meanwhile, though they haven’t competed for a league championship in some time, the Rochester softball team quietly made some noise last season. Finishing third in the league, the Warriors made the state playoffs as a No. 14 seed, and upset several teams until they ran into a familiar foe in W.F. West in the consolation semifinals.
Returning Layna Demers in the circle and a solid young core around the sophomore, the Warriors could again turn some heads in 2023.
Aberdeen could also feature in the mix, with sophomore ace Lilly Camp returning to the circle and a fairly experienced cast of players around the young star.
Centralia returns a good amount of depth in its lineup, with Peyton Smith and Payton Baumel returning to lead the Tigers in the circle, and Lauren Wasson and Makayla Chavez providing some power to their batting lineup.
Black Hills will look to build on a 2022 campaign that saw them finish last in the league, and will lean heavily on Zoey Theophilus in the circle and in the box.
Coach: David Orr (fifth)
2022 record: 9-11
Player(s) to watch: Lauren Wasson, Peyton Smith, Makayla Chavez
Coach: Kevin Zylstra (first)
2022 record: 20-5 (third at state)
Player(s) to watch: Savannah Hawkins, Staysha Fluetsch, Avalon Myers
Coach: Joni Lancaster (second)
2022 record: 17-9 (state)
Player(s) to watch: Layna Demers, Jessa Lenzi, Macey Fluetsch
Coach: Ashley Lupinski (sixth)
2022 record: 22-2 (state champions)
Player(s) to watch: Ella Ferguson, Kylie Waltermeyer, Jaime Haase
Coach: Mike Vessey (fourth)
2022 record: 0-17
Player(s) to watch: Ella Goheen, Zoey Theophilus, Sam West