New Everett softball coach Casey Chaffee is preparing for her first 3A state tournament as a head coach.
Fortunately for her, the Seagulls have some experience in this area.
Everett has been to state eight times since 2001 — and placed in the top eight four of the past five years. The best Everett has finished is third place — in 2010 and 2008. But this year the Seagulls have higher hopes.
“The first week, their goal for the season was to be state champs,” Chaffee said. “We’ll see. We’ll see if they can pull it off.”
Chaffee is no stranger to Everett softball. She ran the junior varsity team for former coach Kyle Peacocke for two years and her mother coaches the summer team that many Seagulls play on. The past two years Chaffee has been an assistant coach for the JV boys soccer team at Everett.
When Peacocke made the decision to leave Everett and coach at Jackson to be closer to home and more involved in the community, Chaffee jumped at the chance to take over a softball team that is a perennial power in Wesco 3A.
“I came in knowing that I was going to have a great group of girls,” Chaffee said. “I came in with really high expectations. My No. 1 goal as a head coach was to make sure I got the right coaching staff and people involved with the program. Honestly, I have the best coaching staff ever.”
Her staff includes, among others, strength and conditioning coach Jered Fowler, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1996, the year the team created its minor league program.
The new staff has been a positive influence for the Seagulls, according to senior Lauren Kesterson.
“I think (the season’s) been really productive,” Kesterson said. “There’s a whole new staff. A lot of experienced people. She just has a lot of connections. We get not just her, but different peoples’ views.”
Kesterson is one of three seniors — along with her twin sister Chloe and Lexie Levin — who have been four-year varsity starters. There are six seniors in total on the Seagulls’ roster, and Kesterson says they’d love to finish their final high school season on top.
“It’s a big deal. We’ve been working for it all four years,” Kesterson said. “As far as the program, we’ve been successful, but we’ve just never kind of finished it out. This is it. This is it for us. Of course we want it. We’ve been working hard for four years to reach it. It would mean a lot to win.”
Everett’s quest for a championship starts Friday at 9 a.m., when the Seagulls take on Liberty at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey. While it’s easily the earliest game of the season for Everett, many of the players play on select softball teams, where early morning games are nothing new.
The team will head down on Thursday to get a practice in and be in bed early, Chaffee said.
The first-year coach said she’s going to approach the game like the 23 other ones the Seagulls have had this year. That approach has been working well: Everett is 22-1 this season.
“We’re going down with the mentality that we need to play four games and we need to win all of them,” Chaffee said. “These girls are very fun to work with. I can’t imagine there’s another team out there working as hard as they are … or want it as bad as they do.”
While Chaffee makes her head coaching debut at the stae it will be business as usual for Kesterson and the Seagulls. The senior infielder said that everyone’s excited, confident and ready to go.
“This is it. The season ends this weekend,” Kesterson said. “There’s a little more pressure, but in a good way.”
4A State Tournament
Merkel Field, Spokane | Friday
Monroe vs. Kentlake, 10 a.m.
M. Pilchuck vs. Em. Ridge, noon
3A State Tournament
Reg. Athletic Comp., Lacey | Friday
Everett vs. Liberty, 9 a.m.
Meadowdale vs. Peninsula, noon
2A State Tournament
Carlton Park, Selah | Friday
G. Falls vs. White River, 10 a.m
Winners play in quarters and losers play in consolation games later Friday