WWU pitcher Anna Kasner throws a pitch facing off against Edmonds Community College for a double header on Saturday, Sept. 28. // Photo by Alex Moreno
By Nolan Baker
As the clock struck high noon, the clouds creating a dark and blistering cold morning split open, and the sun beamed down on the Vikings softball field. Perhaps it’s an omen for the upcoming season.
In a preseason doubleheader Saturday against Edmonds Community College, the Vikings won their first game 11-3, and tied their second 4-4.
Entering their second season under head coach Sheryl Gilmore, the Vikings are looking to improve upon last year’s 27-18 record, in which they narrowly lost out on a spot in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament.
Western is reloaded with nine new recruits, five freshmen and four junior college transfers, and their goals are higher than ever.
Gilmore says the new transfers bring important leadership and experience needed to take the team to the next level. It showed out on the diamond Saturday.
First baseman Dakota Brooks, an All-American at Centralia College last season, had two RBI in the first game and a solo home run in the second game. In an interview with the athletic department, Brooks said choosing Western was simple.
“I like to think that Western Washington University chose me,” she said. “Coach Gilmore and my future teammates contributed towards my choosing of my future college.”
Transfers weren’t the only ones showcased Saturday. Numerous freshmen saw action, including freshman pitcher Kaelynn Simmons. A standout at Dallas High School, Simmons graduated with two Oregon 5A State Pitcher of the Year awards, three All-State selections, three Mid-Willamette Conference Pitcher of the Year awards and a 58-4 record.
Simmons’ has high goals for her first year on campus, she said.
“[I want to] just play for my team, continue to work hard, and of course win a national championship, have all of us work hard every day with that goal in mind,” Simmons said.
Western drove in a total of 15 runs on the day. The fourth inning in the second game saw home runs from junior Dakota Brooks, sophomore Brooke Fesenbek and junior Anna Kasner.
Gilmore said there is a long road ahead, especially with the infusion of new ball players, both transfers and freshmen.
“It’s early, we need to improve on a lot.” Gilmore said, “We know our potential, we know how good we can be, and we’re excited for that. We got plenty of work to do, but we’re excited to be able to do it.”
“This group will work hard,” she adds.
Edmonds Community College was home to many Western players, including Gilmore, who led the Tritons to a 106-60 record in four seasons.
Infielder Tamia Hirano, a senior transfer from Edmonds Community College, said playing against her former school makes the game a little easier.
“Playing against Edmonds, it’s like knowing in the back of my head, ‘I’ve been there, I’ve done that.’ It’s a good feeling,” Hirano said.
The Vikings’ next game is another preseason doubleheader against Seattle University on Oct. 5th.