Young Mariner team looking to develop raw talent | Softball
Last updated 3/12/2019 at Noon
The Mariner softball team comes in with a lot of raw potential.
The immediate task for second-year coach Nathan Beachy is finding a way to harness that talent on the diamond.
The Marauders’ roster includes eight freshmen, who will be joining one senior, two juniors and four sophomores.
The decision to carry so many freshmen was made, in part, because of the potential Beachy and his coaching staff saw in those players.
“A lot of freshmen that came in were athletic. We were really excited to see athletes,” Beachy said. “I think that was where we lacked last year. We had a lot of softball players but not as many well-rounded athletes.
“Now we’re teaching well-rounded athletes softball this year. It’s going to be good.”
Mariner also is not fielding a junior varsity team this season due to lower numbers.
One of the eight freshmen, Alexis Slater, is expected to see plenty time at pitcher, which in turn will free up junior Mariana McMurtrie, last year’s starter. McMurtrie, who earned honorable mention, all-league recognition, will see time at second base, pitcher and other positions in the field.
“We have the opportunity to move her around with freshman Alexis Slater coming in,” Beachy said. “We have a good opportunity to make our defense a lot stronger in all parts of the field, which is nice. She can play pretty much anywhere.”
The addition of Slater also gives Mariner options in the circle, which Beachy didn’t have a year ago when McMurtrie was the lone pitcher.
“We’ll be able to mix it up a little bit and see who’s hot one day and who’s not and kind of go with whoever is doing well at the time,” Beachy said.
Mariner’s defense is anchored by sophomore shortstop Mackenzie Graham, a second-team, all-league selection. Graham brings stability to the infield and a growing leadership presence despite her relative youth.
“I’ve noticed this year she’s shown a little bit more leadership and she’s a little bit more vocal,” Beachy said.
The lone senior is Kelsi Osorio, who’s been in the program for all four years.
“We’ve got plans to try to figure out how to get her into a spot where she can stay for a while,” Beachy said.
Sophomores Araceli Urrutia and Aliyah Fedorov are the other two returning varsity players. Sophomore catcher Sarah Angelos would have been on varsity but transferred to the school last year and instead played junior varsity.
The Marauders’ youth hasn’t hindered what McMurtrie sees as a solid start in practices.
“We’re moving faster than we expected,” she said.
McMurtrie added that Beachy is giving all of the players, including the freshmen, the chance to earn a starting spot.
“You have to work up to your starting position,” McMurtrie said. “I believe that makes people work even harder.”
The addition of so many new players means the Marauders need to continue to work on communication, Graham noted.
“Playing with new girls, you don’t know them as well, so you don’t have that unspoken communication,” Graham said.
Beachy sees the mastering of the fundamentals as the primary task heading into season.
“The catching and bunting, if we can get those two things under wraps, if we can put pressure on people, that’s our big goal to put pressure on people whether it’s on offense or making the plays we’re supposed to make on defense,” Beachy said.
A year ago, Mariner got off to a successful start, winning four of its first five games, all non-league. But the Marauders struggled when league play rolled around, losing all 14 games, including four to the top two teams in the state 4A champion Jackson and runner-up Monroe.
“I think the biggest thing we saw last year is we hit a wall pretty early in the season,” Beachy said.
Mariner faces non-conference opponents Burlington-Edison, Friday Harbor, Concrete, Lynnwood, Shorewood and Oak Harbor to open the season before taking on Monroe in its league opener. Beachy said the Marauders should be competitive in those games.
“If we can build some kind of momentum to take into league and understand where we fit into the league and where we can compete and where we need to play our best, I think that’s going to be a big thing for these girls mentally,” he said.
After the early success last season, the Marauders weren’t sure how to respond when they didn’t win games.
“Our big thing is just having pride in the program, being proud about where we started and where we finish because we can see the progress,” Beachy said.