I remember last spring, standing over by the tennis courts, finishing my interviews with the tennis team. Suddenly from the softball field rang out a BOOM! The sound system kicked into Beyonce’s “Run the World.” The thunderous, pulsating beat seemed to shake the ground – an apt description for last year’s team.
I wandered over to the outfield fence and watched them practice for a few minutes. Paige Grover, Jordyn Boyd, Olivia Riener and the Rhinehart twins. They were part of a stellar senior class that would lead this club to the 4A State Championship.
Much has changed since those girls hoisted the trophy aloft last spring. Each has moved on. And coach Dani Tachell (formerly Weir) and her husband Chad welcomed a beautiful baby girl to the world last summer. (Kacey Rae Tachell is already donning little Woodinville Falcon outfits, according to mom).
But now this week, a new softball season gets underway. Woodinville opens up at Bellevue on Tuesday, and then hosts Tahoma on Thursday.
The soundtrack to the season now might include The Scorpions’ “Wind of Change.”
“We still have really good talent,” Tachell said. “I think people are going to underestimate us a little bit. It’s time for the [upperclassmen] to take on that kind of role and be leaders. I’m excited to see how these girls transform and fall into place.”
Those carrying the torch now include senior Erin McGrath, Bailey Burger-Moore and the Taketa twins, Megan and Molly.
Tachell said the first weeks of the season will be important for gauging everyone’s role.
“It’s going to take a few games to generate a real opinion,” she said. “I want to see the girls get out there and compete against live pitching and the pressure of varsity games underneath the lights. You’ve got to expose them to those pressures and simulate those situations in practice to see how they respond... I still don’t know where everybody is going to go.”
Tachell expressed excitement over senior outfielder Erin McGrath.
“I’m excited for her to see what she is going to do in terms of leadership,” Tachell said. “She has been on varsity for four years and has been behind really strong leadership. Now it’s her turn to lead and she has done such a fantastic job of that. I’m really proud of her for that. But she’s also made great strides in the outfield in overcoming her fear of diving. She’s so fast she’s got great coverage in the outfield. But imagine how much more she’d have if she would just go that extra step. She had a light bulb moment this summer.”
Junior Rachael Rhinehart looks to follow in her older sister’s footsteps. The twins Lauryn and Taylor always insisted that their younger sibling had even more potential than they did.
“Rachael is ready to compete,” Tachell said. “She has been in her sisters’ shadow for quite awhile and she’s ready to make a name for herself. She has grown really well and has great speed. She has great command as a pitcher and her hitting has come a long ways.”
Tachell also cited junior Bailey Burger-Moore.
“She is coming back with a vengeance,” Tachell said. “She has been working on her hitting a lot. She’ll do some time behind the plate and a first base.”
Looking ahead toward this year’s competition, Tachell said Kingco 4A will be competitive as always.
“We’re always going to have a target on our back and teams are going to come after us,” she said. “So I don’t want to discount anybody. But I’m thinking Eastlake is going to be pretty good. Inglemoor is always tough, they always give us a tough game. And I’m interested to see how Newport is going to come out. They had a young team last year [that did some really good things]... They’ve got a new coach and they have a year of experience now.”