The resume of the Archbishop Murphy softball team is solid.
Three consecutive 2A District 1 titles. Two consecutive Cascade Conference titles. Six consecutive trips to state.
The Wildcats have made it to the state tournament consistently, but they’ve only brought back hardware once.
After placing second in Class 1A in 2002, the Wildcats have been knocked out in the consolation bracket every year since then.
“As a group the team has expressed we’d like to place at least fifth or higher since we haven’t placed at all (recently),” coach Linsi Moy said. “They have goals to go further than that.”
“My goal at the end of last year was to place in top three last year,” Moy added. “That’s the goal I’d like us to reach.”
The Wildcats also have to be better prepared to play the caliber of teams they will see at state every day.
Moy said her squad has to be prepared for anything.
Archbishop Murphy fans will have to wait and see if the team can step up to the challenge. It’s a different team this year without Cascade Conference first teamers shortstop Kaitlin Duffy and pitcher/first baseman Kayelynne Huggins, who graduated.
The Wildcats are a young squad with only one senior, 2A all-state center fielder Kristin Ehlebracht, but they boast talent especially up the middle of the defense.
Junior shortstop Caitlin Perez and freshman second baseman Amber Manuel are the double-play combination. Sophomore catcher Marya Oestreich “is strong behind the plate,” Moy said.
Pitcher Brittany Allen is a hard thrower who will get the starts especially in the first half of the season.
“She throws hard, there’s nothing halfway about her,” Moy said. “She’s really improved her breaking pitches—her rise, her screw.”
Allen’s added some finesse to go with her power, Moy said.
Manuel, the second pitcher, is more of a finesse pitcher.
“The two complement each other because they throw at different speeds,” Moy said.
Junior Jaimee Greenup is at third and first base is a platoon of juniors Makayla Sybrandt and Karissa Bragg.
“Defensively we have a really good core in the infield,” Moy said. “They really comfortable with each other they know their strengths.”
The remaining outfielders include sophomores Ally Hines and Maddy Huggins, and juniors Sarah Fortune and Kelsey Stoeser. The outfield lineup will change the most, Moy said.
On offense, the Wildcats lose the quickness of Duffy in the leadoff spot, but Allen who takes that spot is a good athlete and hit .317 last year. Perez, who bats second, has increased her speed. Ehlebracht is penciled into the three-hole and hit .462 last year. Greenup, a .450 hitter last year, bats cleanup.
Vying for the fifth spot are Manuel, Sybrandt and Oestreich.
“We have a really nice core middle of the lineup,” Moy said. “I know people are confident.”
Archbishop Murphy, who started out the season 2-1 through March 25, will have to contend with teams like South Whidbey, Cedarcrest, Lakewood and Granite Falls in the conference this year. Granite Falls beat the Wildcats already and Lakewood went eight innings with them before losing.
“I do think a lot of schools want to gun for us,” Moy said. “Why wouldn’t they? We’re working hard so we’re ready for that.”
“I don’t like to underestimate anybody because everyone can have an off day and everyone can have an on day,” she said.
The biggest challenge for the Wildcats early in the season has been an illness. The virus that has been going around hit the team hard and players have missed practice time.
“That set back some people,” Moy said. “But I do think the girls have a positive attitude and when everyone comes back, everyone will be on the same page.”
Archbishop Murphy softball
Coach: Lindsi Moy, second year.
Last season: 15-3 in the league. 20-6 overall; advanced to state tournament.
Key players: Senior Kristin Ehlebracht (OF/P), juniors Caitlin Perz (SS), Jamie Greenup (3B); sophomore Marya Oestreich (C) freshman Amber Manuel (2B).