Douglas High names trio of new softball coaches | RecordCourier.com

Douglas High names trio of new softball coaches

by Joey Crandall

While somewhat new to the world of high school sports, the recently-hired coaches of the Douglas High School softball program are plenty familiar with the Carson Valley softball community.

Douglas athletic director Jeff Evans announced last week that the team will be coached by the trio of Lori Raschilla, Kari Begovich-Wigton and Vanessa Ozolins.

Raschilla and Begovich-Wigton have long participated in youth and rec-league softball in the area while Ozolins, a counselor at the high school, is expected to be the staff link for the team.

“We’re very glad to have this group on board,” Evans said. “I think with the experience they have and the level of softball they have played at, they will be of great benefit to this successful program.”

Raschilla will be listed as the team’s head coach. She played third base for the University of Nevada in the 1980s before transfering to Hawaii after the Wolf Pack program dissolved.

“One of the things that spoke to me in hiring these ladies is that their No. 1 priority is to have fun,” Evans said. “They want to use the program as a stepping stone to get to the next level of competitive softball. Lori has been there, so she knows what it takes to get there.”

Raschilla and Begovich-Wigton first met in 1982 and played together in the Carson Valley Bobby Sox league. Raschilla also played in the Carson Comets program, and both have played and coached in adult women’s and co-ed leagues in the years since. Ozonlins has been active in the local adult softball leagues for many years as well, Evans said.

“I was talking with Vanessa and I knew she was active in softball,” Evans said. “She mentioned she might be interested in taking this on and after she talked about it with Kari, they came to us with the idea of a team approach.”

Team, it would seem, is going to be the operative word with the new coaching staff.

“That’s exactly what we’re looking to create – a solid team atmosphere,” Raschilla said. “We want to see the girls have fun and succeed.

“I think we’ll have a great mix of talent and a good philosophy.”

While it is the first venture into coaching high school sports for any of the three, it will hardly be foreign territory.

“We’ve coached at the adult level and we know the game,” Begovich-Wigton said. “We’re going to push the kids to play hard and to play to win. The biggest thing is we want to see improvement in the players as the season goes on.”

Begovich-Wigton said she will work more with the hitters and Raschilla will handle the pitchers and the fielders. Ozolins will handle much of the administrative work and serve as a bench coach.

“It’ll be fun to come in fresh and work on getting to know this group,” Begovich-Wigton said. “We haven’t had a chance to meet with them yet, but we’ll look forward to getting to know the players as the season goes on.”

Douglas is coming off a 25-10 season in which it finished second in the Sierra League and won one game in the regional playoffs. The Lady Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the region by the Sierra Nevada Sports Media Poll early in the season before falling victim to a number of injuries and off-the-field problems.

The Tigers lost three Division I players to graduation in catcher Valerie Smith (Columbia), pitcher/infielder Kayla Dunn (Georgia Tech and pitcher/outfielder Brittany Puzey (Nevada). They also lost power-pitcher Kellei Kizer, who along with Puzey and Dunn formed one of the most fearsome starting pitching rotations in state history, and utility infielder Jessie Kizer

Douglas should have several talented younger players on its roster with sophomore outfielder and 2005 all-leaguer Lauren Hoppe as the team’s top returning hitter and all-league honorable mention returnees Tisha Luken (junior) and Skyler Zulian (senior) heading the class.

The Tigers also have potential returning starters in senior first baseman Jolie Kizer, senior third baseman Felicia Imelli, senior pitcher/outfielder Mitzi Olsen, sophomore outfielder/pitcher Bridget Maestretti and junior outfielder Nicole Laporte. Olsen went 4-1 as a starting pitcher last season.

In other coaching news at Douglas, Evans announced that Charlie Bowman, a long-time assistant coach with the Tiger swim team, will take over at the helm of the Douglas swimming and diving program after former coach Kirk Chiapella decided not to return for the 2006 season.

n Joey Crandall can be reached at jcrandall@recordcourier.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.