After seeing their 2013 season end on a heart breaking note, the Douglas High softball team is understandably motivated coming into its new season.
Douglas had the Division I Northern Region Tournament championship and state tournament berth within reach, only to lose back-to-back games by identical 9-5 scores against Reed in the finals. Yet, the Tigers aren’t talking about taking care of unfinished business, according to first-year coach Rob Parks.
“We’re trying to stay away from that,” he said. “It’s a long season and we’re still not sure how the other teams are going to play. We can’t take anything for granted.”
The oulook is certainly promising for the Tigers, who have 10 key players back from a 23-12 season.
“We did lose some key players, but our main core is returning,” said Parks, whose club opens Thursday at the Victory Preseason Tournament in Elk Grove, Calif. “This is just a great group of girls, so I’m really excited. I’m ready to get started.”
That “main core” includes Kali Sargent, Sierra League Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore in 2013; senior Kelly Sonnemann, who returns as a first-team all-league catcher; junior outfielder Leonna Mortimer, first-team all-league as an outfielder. Other returnees include Katlyn Bowman, a second-team all-league pitcher, Makayla Shaver, second-team Designated Player, Allison Meyer, second-team utility player, Maddy Parks, honorable mention outfield, Shaena Robinson, Kathryn Chieffo and Julia Gomez.
A newcomer to watch is freshman Corryne Diaz, who figures to contribute as a starter at either shortstop or third base.
Robinson is a candidate to start at third base and Meyer at second base. Rounding out the infield, Shaver, Bowman and Parks are competing at first base.
Parks is the returning starter in center field, with Mortimer expected to play left field. Chieffo and Gomez, along with juniors Morgan Gunnell, Layne Waggoner and Nicole Dunn are in the mix to play right field.
Sonnemann is entering her fourth season as a varsity starter and has signed with Humboldt State University.
“Kelly could play any position, except pitcher, on this team,” Parks said. “She’s definitely one of the better players in Northern Nevada.”
Sargent leads the pitching staff and combines with Bowman to give Douglas a formidable 1-2 starting rotation. Waggoner is the No. 3 pitcher and Gomez turned in a respectable performance Saturday during a scrimmage game against Reed at Bishop Manogue High in Reno. Sargent pitched for the Tigers in their scrimmage wins against Fernley and Fallon — last year’s Division I-A state tournament finalists.
“Kali pitched real well,” Parks said. “We just didn’t want to show her to Reed.”
There were some good signs Saturday, according to Parks, who took over as coach when Andy Mitchell stepped down last year after seven seasons.
“It was just a good chance to see what we have, to take a good look at players in game situations, and get a feel for where we are,” Parks said.
The Tigers showed some punch at the plate during the scrimmages, including home runs by Robinson (in her first at-bat) and Mortimer.
“We’re a really good hitting team,” Parks said. “I’d say we have four or five in the lineup who can hit the ball out of the park.”