It’s no secret in softball circles – the Woodinville Falcons are loaded and hungry for a State championship.
But like all great teams bidding to win it all, there will be challenges and setbacks.
The injury bug certainly hit last November, when slugger Skylar Hein underwent knee surgery and was lost for the season.
And fate struck again recently against Skyline. That’s when up-and-coming left fielder Molly Taketa suffered a season-ending injury of her own.
“It was during pregame,” Taketa said. “I was diving for a ball and my wrist got caught [on the ground] and bent in a strange direction. I fractured my radius. I knew something was off when I went to throw the ball. I was in shock and I didn’t feel anything in the moment.”
As Taketa stood talking to a reporter, her arm hung in a sling.
“It’s a little disappointing that my role as a player is over for the season,” she said. “But my role is shifting and I’m here to support my teammates as they’re working so hard to fulfill all our goals.”
For Woodinville coach Dani Weir, the injury conjured up memories of her own playing days.
“We were scared for Molly and the devastation of it,” Weir said. “I told her I can relate, because in my senior year at Woodinville [in 2006] I tore my ACL in the first game of the season. It was devastating. We had been State champs the year before and were locked and loaded with almost the same roster. I immediately thought back to that when Molly got hurt.”
But life goes on, the season goes on. Time and tide wait for no man, as the saying goes. There’s a title to win, Other Falcons are stepping up to fill the void.
“Mikaelie Sullivan was so key in stepping in in a crucial moment like that,” Weir said. “When Molly got hurt, you forget about where you’re at and the game you’re about to play. But then I saw Mikaelie grab someone to go throw and she goes in and makes two big plays out there [in the subsequent game]. It was like, ‘We miss Molly and we love her but we’re going to win for her’. That was nice to see.”
Weir said that Sullivan, Chloe Lingen, Sierra Hein and Lauryn Rhinehart (when she’s not pitching) could all see time in left field.
“I feel confident in all our positions, and I just want to lock down that position,” Weir said.
Weir also felt something positive could come from Taketa’s injury in the long run.
“Molly will be able to see the game from another lens,” Weir said. “When she does come back she will have a new appreciation for the game. An outside perspective. She has been a fantastic light and inspiration to the girls in the dugout. She hasn’t been crying about her situation and she has been helpful and at every practice contributing as she can. It’s positive for our girls to see that you can be hurt and still be part of the team.”
Taketa was asked if her twin sister and teammate Megan has been helpful since the injury.
“Megan has definitely been supporting me,” Molly said with a smile. “But she doesn’t like to drive, so now she has to drive me everywhere. I usually do the driving. So that’s been the biggest thing.”