2A All-State Softball Team Features Six Local Players

W.F. West’s Ashlyn Whalen connects with a pitch Saturday during the State 2A tournament in Selah.

EvCo: W.F. West and Rochester Land Standouts on Star Studded All-State Roster
By Jordan Nailon
jnailon@chronline.com
Five Bearcats and a Warrior found their way onto the recently announced 2A All-State Softball team for the 2018 season.
That roster, selected by the Washington State Softball Coaches Association, included four local players on the first team. W.F. West pitcher and Co-MVP of The Chronicle’s All-Area team, Ashlee Vadala, was selected as one of four first-team pitchers, while her trusty catcher Paetynn Lopez, was chosen as one of two first-team backstops. Fellow Bearcat Ashlyn Whalen was the lone second baseman selected to the first team, and Hunter Hahn of Rochester was named to the first team as a utility player. W.F. West players Olivia Dean and Anikka Waring were added to the team as second team representatives at shortstop and first base, respectively.
“It’s nice to see the seniors get the recognition that they deserve and then we’ve got some other kids coming up that we can turn to,” said W.F. West coach Caty Lieseke. “That was kind of our mentality all season long was who’s the next one up.”
Vadala, a senior, compiled a record of 18-3 when toeing the pitchers slab for the Bearcats this season, tallying 118 innings of work and a 2.43 ERA. She also struck out 146 batters while issuing just 37 walks. A two-way threat, Vadala also batted .562 from the cleanup spot in the W.F. West order with 59 total hits, including 13 doubles and 10 home runs. She also scored 26 runs and led the team with 46 RBIs.
“We just found out that Ashlee pitched the last week of the season with an injured foot and she probably should have been in a boot,” noted Lieseke in awe of Vadala’s toughness. “She showed a lot of grit and determination this year.”
Lopez, a sophomore at W.F. West, was selected as a first-team catcher in part for her exploits behind the plate while donning the tools of ignorance.
“I think only 12 girls even tried to steal on her this year. It just takes away an element of the other team’s game because they know about her and they say, ‘Nope, don’t even try,’” noted Lieseke. “The pitchers trust her. I was a catcher and I know how important it is for pitchers to feel comfortable and to know that they can throw whatever they want, whenever they want and she’s going to catch it or block it.”
Lopez was no slouch beside the plate, either, where she hit .426 on the season with 43 total hits. That tally included a trove of extra base hits, with four doubles, three triples and nine home runs to her credit. Lopez, who hit second for the Bearcats, also scored 26 runs and batted in 36 runs while accruing a team-high 15 walks. Despite her heavy workload as the team’s only catcher, Lieseke says she never saw any fatigue set in with Lopez, even as they made a deep run through the playoffs to a third place state finish.
“The amount of time that she puts into working out and staying strong is just unparalleled on the team. She caught every inning of every game and there was never any doubt about whether we should take her out,” said Lieseke. “In fact, I think she would have gone down swinging if we had even tried to do it.”
Whalen, a sophomore, earned her first-team selection by expertly holding down the No. 3 slot in the Bearcats’ batting order while simultaneously flashing slick glove work from her station at second base. Whalen set a school record with 10 regular season home runs and whacked 52 hits total. She wound up hitting .520 for the season while scoring 48 runs and driving in another 43.
Lieseke praised Whalen’s calm presence on the team and her consistent effort and production as qualities that helped sustain the Bearcats’ momentum all season long.
“We know that she’s a high-class athlete in everything she does and it’s nice to have other people notice that as well,” Lieseke said.
Rochester’s Hunter Hahn was tabbed for the All-State first team as a utility player. Hahn, a senior who is headed to Saint Martin’s University next year to play softball, was the anchor of the Warriors’ defense whether she was in the pitcher’s circle or at shortstop.
“It’s her IQ on the field that sets her apart. When she played shortstop for us she always knew where the next play would be,” said Rochester coach Dave Montgomery.
As a pitcher, Hahn compiled a 3.63 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 44 innings. At the plate she hit .424 with a .547 on base percentage, while leading her team in stolen bases with eight swipes in the regular season. She also hit one home run, drew 15 walks and drove in 13 runs from her leadoff spot in the order.
“A big thing for us this year is we asked her to be the leadoff hitter for us, and if you asked her, she actually hates batting leadoff, but she did a great job there,” said Montgomery. “She’s patient at the plate and led our team in walks. She just does a fantastic job of getting on base.”
Montgomery added that he gave Hahn a green light to run on the base paths midseason after realizing the knack she has for reading opposing defenses.
“You don’t have to be the fastest player on the base paths as long as you’ve got that savvy. She really set the table for us,” said Montgomery. “I’m super excited for her and she deserves it. She worked hard and did everything we’ve asked of her.”
The 2A All-State Softball first team also included several familiar foes of area teams. Olivia Gray, an Oregon State University bound pitcher for the state champion Woodland Beavers, was tabbed as the state player of the year as well as a first-team pitcher. Her coach, Tom Christensen, earned coach of the year honors. Woodland knocked off Rochester at Districts and later took down W.F. West at the state tournament.
“I think most of our batting averages fell by quite a few points after facing Woodland twice at Districts,” noted Montgomery as he laughed through the pain of that memory.
The 2A All-State Softball second team included two W.F. West infielders.
Annika Waring, a sophomore, was selected as a first baseman, although she can also toe the pitchers slab when called upon. This year, she was 4-1 as a pitcher, and hit .550 during the regular season with 39 runs batted in and a school record 48 singles. Notably, she was perfect with her first baseman’s trapper during the regular season, notching an unheard of 1.000 fielding percentage, and even elevated her offensive production when it mattered most by posting a .778 batting average at the state tournament.
Lieseke called Waring’s season-long defensive performance “unreal” and added, “She’s the clutch kid. She won a state basketball championship this year and she’s always ready for a big game. She’s the one who always reminded our team, ‘We’re here to have fun, and to win.’”
Olivia Dean, a senior shortstop who will play softball for Centralia College next year, held down the leadoff spot for the Bearcats all season long. Dean batted .508 for the season while accumulating a whopping 60 hits, including 14 doubles and five home runs. Dean also scored 45 runs and drove in 34 runs while endearing herself to her coaching staff and teammates.
Lieseke said that if coaches were allowed to have favorite players, Dean would certainly be one.
“She’s just a leader. She’s a yes kid. Anything you ask her to do she’s going to do and she’s going to do it well,” Lieseke said. “She really spreads that attitude to everyone on the team.”

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