By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

Spring sports open for Goldendale, games start early next week

 

Jaryd Cline

Senior Justin Wells will be a strong for Goldendale's pitching rotation this season.

Goldendale spring sports practices kicked off the beginning of last week, with some practices being held in the Goldendale High School gym. All the teams have now moved practices outside, with the season fast approaching.

Baseball

Last season, the Goldendale baseball team came within one game of reaching the South Central Athletic Conference district tournament, falling to Warden in a play-in game for the tournament.

This season, with a large and experienced senior class, the Timberwolves again are poised to make a run for districts and perhaps further.

With 11 seniors on this year's squad, the team has experience, hitting, pitching, and the drive that should have them competing for one of the top spots in the SCAC West.

"They are all ready to be successful," third-year head coach Ann Cochran said. "They all have experience and all played last year."

The Timberwolves return a handful of arms to the pitching mound in seniors Alex Mains, Justin Wells, Jacob Bischoff, John DeMott, Josh Ortiz, and Mitch Bane, as well as a pair of senior backstops in catchers Dylan Denning and Joe Randall.


Of the 20 kids out after the first week of the season, 11 are seniors, with one sophomore and eight freshmen.

One of the things Cochran and assistant coaches Bill and Rick Kauffman were excited about early this season was all the freshmen out this season.

The team wasn't able to field a junior varsity team last season, and is just two players short of being able to have a team this season, but the big group of underclassmen will be able to practice together and get familiar with each other.

Golf

The Goldendale golfers began their season earlier than any of the other teams, and were on the road Tuesday at the Desert Aire Golf Course in Mattawa, although results weren't available when the papers had to be sent out.

The team left Tuesday morning for the two hour trip to Mattawa, and competed against a bunch of league teams. Cle Elum, La Salle, and Zillah were there from the SCAC West, along with Wahluke, Royal, and Warden from the East side of the league.


There are 10 Timberwolves out on the courses so far this season, with two returners from last year's squad. Luke Gerchak and Logan Quantrell are the only golfers back from last year.

Gerchak brings state experience to the team after finishing in a three-way tie for 26th at state last year. His 167 two-day total was the fourth highest finish among SCAC West golfers.

Goldendale is back at it again for a boys-only tournament in Othello on Friday.

After having just one home match last year, Goldendale is set for two this season.

They're at the Goldendale Golf Club on April 10 at 1 p.m. against Cle Elum and College Place before closing out the regular season at home on May 1 against La Salle and Wahluke.

Softball

Duane Witter is the new sheriff in town, and looks to make a big impact during his first year coaching the Goldendale softball team.

Hired earlier this year, Witter, assistant coach Nick Weis, and the softball girls have been putting in lots of work on Mike Hood Memorial Field in order to get it prepped for the upcoming season, which starts with a home doubleheader against River View on Tuesday starting at 2 p.m.

Witter and Weis have been working on the weekend on the field and are in the process of leveling the infield, creating a warning track along the outfield fence, and are filling spots of the infield in with new grass.

Witter spent the last four years as an assistant coach at The Dalles High School, and is excited to get his first season with the Timberwolves underway.

"It's been great," Witter said. "I enjoy this and we've got some great girls here."

Those girls Witter is referring to are the 13 Timberwolves out this season, with seven returning from last year's team. The team has a pair of strong sophomore pitchers in Delaney Peters and Alyssa Weis, with junior Kaitie Harris handling catching duties.

Early this week the team practiced on the field for the first time after spending the first week of practice inside the high school gym. They ran through some of the basic drills as the new coach reminded the team that it's a game of inches.

After Tuesday's season opener against the Panthers, Goldendale again is at home on March 20 for a doubleheader against the White Swan Cougars.

See next week's Sentinel for more information on the softball team and its new skipper.

Tennis

Last season, a pair of Goldendale doubles teams that advanced to the state tournament and won a game in Yakima. One of those groups (Edgar Vega and Ignacio Cano) graduated last year, while the other (Talia Johnson and Kelli Bighorn) will lead a strong girls program as it competes for a district title.

With 32 kids out as of Monday, including 10 boys, twice as many as last year, head coach Channon Bighorn is excited to get the season underway, which begins with a home match on Tuesday against Granger.

Bighorn said Goldendale hasn't been able to field a full boys team in years, and thinks the boys should be tough competitors this season.

With both the No. 1 and No. 2 girls doubles teams returning, as well as all their singles players from a year ago, a league title for the Goldendale girls is not out of the question.

Bighorn and Johnson pair to make a dangerous No. 1 doubles team, while Halie Allen and Kylee Beam are another tough team than came close to reaching state last season.

With a lot of fresh faces on this year's team, many of the upperclassmen have been showing the younger and newer players the ropes and helping to push them in practice.

There also has been a lot of competition as continue to challenge each other for spots on the varsity team. There are three boys and girls doubles teams, and two singles players.

Last season, the boys had to forfeit the No. 3 doubles game each match since they didn't have enough to fill out the full team, but they should be able to fill out the full five spots this season.

Track and field

Although numbers are down from the 50 kids that competed for the Goldendale track and field team last season, the 29 Timberwolves out there this season are ready to grind all season long with the goal of advancing to the state meet at the end of May in Cheney.

"We've got a great group out here now," head coach Jennifer Holycross said. "They're doing a great job and working hard."

There's a good balance of freshmen through seniors on this year's team, with a handful of returners with state experience, headlined by senior Dillon Rising.

The senior distance runner has appeared at state in each of his first three seasons, and last year captured fifth place in the 3,200 and sixth in the 1,600. He is back at full strength after an injury suffered during cross country season, and should be one of the top distance runners in the state this spring.

He is joined by junior Lucas Anderson and junior Reese Michael as Goldendale boys on this year's team with state experience, while senior Allison Gilliam, junior Lene Riggers, and sophomores Ellie Rising and Abby Hedges all hope to return to state again this season.

The Timberwolves don't have their first meet until the Mullen-Leavitt Invitational on March 17 in The Dalles, but a handful of kids were over in Oregon for the Hood River Learn By Doing Clinic last Saturday, getting tips and information from some of the best track and field coaches in the northwest.

When last year's throwing coach Alan Hale took the middle school head track coaching job, a familiar face returned to coach the throwers this season.

Michelle Watson, who last coached with the Timberwolves in 2016, is back to coach the throwers. She had a standout high school career and went on to compete collegiately at the University of Idaho, and should be a big asset to the team.

Jaryd Cline

Senior Dillon Rising, left, and junior Lucas Anderson both competed in long distance running events at last year's state meet, and both should be back in Cheney for this year's state championships.

 

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