5 prep softball players to watch

Chloe McIntosh

Utility | Sr. | Cascade

The senior utility player will be asked to do a lot more for the Bruins this season with senior pitcher Makinlee Sellevold likely out for the season with an injury.

McIntosh hasn’t pitched in a game since middle school, but has been practicing all summer knowing she will be called upon at times with Sellevold out.

“She’s really stepping up,” Cascade head coach Kelly Ross said. “She’s been pitching in the offseason and doing as much as she can ever since she found out there was a possibility that Makinlee won’t be available. She’s really gone above and beyond trying to help the team out and take some pressure off that position.”

Sellevold’s shoes won’t be easy to fill. As a junior, she won 15 games, striking out 149 and leading Cascade to a Wesco 4A South regular-season championship.

McIntosh, who also plays third base and center field and will be a captain for the Bruins this season, will share pitching duties with junior Aubrey Peterson.

Despite their regular-season success, the Bruins came up two victories short of advancing to the state tournament a year ago. Though they likely will have to do it without Sellevold, Ross said the team’s goal is to get over that hump this season.

“I think our team goals have stayed the same,” Ross said. “We have the same core group of girls returning this year. I think they are just planning on building on what they accomplished last year and moving to the next level. They still have state in their sights.”

Maddy Kristjanson

SS/P | Sr. | Mountlake Terrace

The senior will again pitch and play shortstop for the Hawks, who finished seventh at last year’s 3A state tournament.

Kristjanson played a big role in Mountlake Terrace’s last-season surge, batting .522 with a .958 slugging percentage, 38 RBI and 35 runs score for the season. She also had nine home runs, 10 stolen bases and won six games pitching for the Hawks.

“From what I’ve seen so far, I think she’s going to be better than she was last year,” Mountlake Terrace head coach Shannon Rasmussen said. “She’s ready to go.”

As impressive as Kristjanson’s offensive numbers are, defensively she hasn’t committed an error in each of the past two seasons.

“I think we are going to be right up there and competitive with the rest of the teams in the league and we would love to make it back to state,” Rasmussen said. “I think she’s going to be a big part of us making it that far.”

Callie Bircher

P | Sr. | Glacier Peak

Bircher is the Grizzlies leader on the field and off, at the plate and from the pitcher’s circle.

The senior batted .315 with a .404 on-base percentage, 16 RBI and 14 runs scored last season. She was just as, if not more, impressive from the pitcher’s circle, finishing with 14 wins, a 1.64 earned-run average, 199 strikeout and just 14 walks while being named a second-team All-Area pitcher.

“I think last year gave her a lot of confidence,” Glacier Peak head coach Caitlin Nies said. “She threw a ton of innings for us and was really successful. I think knowing she’s a senior and having the experience, she’s just going to have fun going out there and trying to get us as we can into the (district) tournament and hopefully on to state.”

Bircher has all the talent to be one of the best pitcher’s in the area once again this season and will play a key role in the Grizzlies achieving their goal of getting to the state tournament.

“I definitely think she has the maturity and the talent to be one of those great pitchers this year and I think she’s up for the challenge,” Nies said.

Katelyn McDonald

1B | Sr. | Arlington

McDonald, a senior, batted .405 last season with a .583 slugging percentage, 21 doubles and one home run. Impressive numbers for most players, but for an Arlington team that won the 4A state championship, it was good enough for sixth best on the Eagles.

“Offensively this year there is a lot of pressure on her,” Arlington head coach Dan Eng said. “She’s trying to match those numbers or go higher.”

The five players that finished above her offensively have all graduated and McDonald finds herself in a leadership role both on and off the field. She will be looked to as an anchor for the offense, but will also be the team’s captain. Eng said McDonald has embraced her new role and spent time in the fall organizing an open gym for her teammates to work out and get to know each other better.

“She’s doing everything that she can to provide leadership and get them together,” Eng said.

Eng said he hopes to see his team come together as the season goes along and learn how to win. The long-term goal is to make it back to the district tournament where anything can happen as long as you get there.

Sarah Casel

CF | Sr. | Jackson

The senior batted .380 with a .458 on-base percentage, 17 runs scored and five stolen bases last season for the Timberwolves, who finished second in the Wesco 4A South behind Cascade.

“I expect her to be on base causing problems for the defense all season long,” Jackson head coach Kyle Peacocke said. “If she hits a single, it’s easily going to turn into a double because she’s going to be looking to steal bases.”

Casel will be one of the team’s captains and once again bat leadoff and play center field for the Timberwolves, who hope to challenge for a league championship.

“We’re kind of taking things one step at a time this year,” Peacocke said. “We’re still relatively young, but the kids are looking first and foremost to challenge for the Wesco South title.”

Peacocke said he expects Casel’s already impressive statistics to improve in her final year at Jackson.

“She has pretty high expectations for herself,” he said. “It’s always tough to make an exact prediction, but I would say she’s going to be right there with probably a little bit better batting average.”

— Aaron Lommers, Herald Writer

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