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By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

Goldendale softball drops first game in new coach Witter's debut


March 14, 2018

Jaryd Cline

Goldendale head softball coach Duane Witter talks with the team during the first inning of Tuesday's game against River View.

The Goldendale softball team was supposed to get its season underway with a Saturday doubleheader in Royal, but that game had to be canceled as the team was waiting for all the girls to become eligible.

Instead, new head coach Duane Witter's first games coaching the Timberwolves happened at home Tuesday against the River View Panthers, who took the first game of the doubleheader on a rainy and windy afternoon while the second game was called before it started. River View took the opener 19-6, and although the Wolves trailed the entire game, Witter was pleased with how his team competed.

Sophomore Delaney Peters pitched the whole game for the Timberwolves and finished with six strikeouts, including two in the first inning, but struggled with control at times.

Goldendale had a good day at the plate, scoring six runs on six hits, and Witter was pleased with how often his girls were able to get on base. They had 18 baserunners on the day, and everyone in the lineup reached base at least once.

The Timberwolves will be back home in action next Tuesday at 2 and 4 p.m. against the White Swan Cougars.

Witter's Wolves

Duane Witter may be new to the Timberwolves, but Goldendale's new head softball coach is anything but new to the sport.

Joining the Timberwolves after four years as an assistant softball coach with The Dalles High School, Witter has been involved in softball and coaching for the majority of his life.

Back in 2007, he helped coach a U18 club team, the Oregon Panthers, to a top 25 national ranking, with 12 players from that team going on to sign with NCAA Division I schools.

He also previously coached at Skyline High School near Seattle, Ferris High School in Spokane, and a few other schools before coaching in The Dalles. He thought back to his time coaching at Ferris, and said the team there was similar to what he's seen from the Timberwolves throughout the first few weeks of the season.

"It was coming off of some losing seasons and stuff. It was a good group of girls needing direction and coaching," Witter said.

That's what he plans on bringing to the table with the Timberwolves, a strong knowledge of the game with a lot of attention to details in a game that literally can be decided by inches.

Only on the job a few weeks, Witter has been becoming familiar with the team, learning about the girls, their families, their school work and more.

"I've got 13, 14 girls that want to get better. They want to please and they're happy to be here" Witter said. "They're kind of learning me ... and I'm learning how they think. That's it. I want to build a program that goes forward.

"I think this year with the girls that we have and what they're doing ... I think we can win some games," he added.

He's already made a strong impact on the team, not just on the softball diamond.

"He coaches girls so well because he gets our mindset and the difference between how we bring outside stuff into practice," junior catcher Katie Harris said.

Harris also said Witter has been a vocal, energetic presence so far with a sense of humor that often goes unnoticed by the team.

"He makes so many old references. So many. We have to like pause a minute just to understand them," Harris said. "He'll reference movies I don't even know."

Close to home

Witter saw the open job while browsing the WIAA website looking for a head coaching position.

"The opportunity came. I applied," Witter said, "and it's close enough to home so it works out really well for me."

It also was an added bonus that Speedy Septic Service, at which Witter is a project manager, likes the employees to be active in the communities. They've worked with him and his work schedule to help him make each practice and game.

"That's kind of a dying thing in today's society," he said. "I'm really blessed to have that."

Although practice began just over two weeks ago, Witter and assistant coach Nick Weis put in a lot of their free time working to improve the field conditions. A few weekends ago, they hosted a team field day where the girls and their parents helped out on the field while getting to know the new coach.

Witter has lived in the Gorge area pretty much his whole life, and knew the type of community that Goldendale is, making it easier for him to apply for the open position.

"I knew the community was a small, close-knit community which makes it usually easier to coach at," Witter said. "You could go get a cup of joe at the local restaurant and everybody's saying hi. And that's the great thing about a small community."


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