By Ray Hamill — The Hoopa Warriors have enjoyed plenty of success in softball in recent years and they’re confident that won’t change much this season.
The defending North Coast Section Division-V champions will open the season against Trinity on Tuesday with eyes on not just winning another section crown, but also a third straight Little 4 championship.
They certainly appear to have the depth, talent and versatility to do it.
“I think we’re going to be well-rounded,” said first-year head coach Ryan Colegrove, who takes over form Glenn Moore. “We have some offense, some defense and some pitching.”
The Warriors also have a large roster this season, with 15 players on hand, in part because of not fielding a JV team.
The roster also features plenty of experience, with six seniors back from last year’s NCS winning team, as well as sophomore sensation Savannah Colegrove, who was MVP pitcher of the L4 last spring.
Savannah is one of four pitchers the coach expects to play a big role this year, with plenty of depth at the position.
Seniors Dawn Van Pelt and Estelle Colegrove will see time in the circle, as will freshman Tatianna Colegrove, the younger sister of Savannah and cousin of Estelle.
And all four pitchers have complementary talents.
“They all pitch differently” the head coach said.
That is expected to be a feature of this year’s team in general, and Ryan Colegrove believes her roster has a lot of versatility and will be able to adjust to a lot of different situations.
The new coach got to see her players in action at last weekend’s H-DNL jamboree in Fortuna and she liked what she saw.
“They looked really good,” she said. “It took us a little while to get warm, but once we got going I was very happy. We hit the ball really well. My defense looked pretty solid.”
The coach also likes the closeness of this year’s team, which has bonded well and has been very supportive of each other despite the competition for places.
“I really like the way they get along well,” she said. “I’m always pushing for a sisterhood type team and I think they’re playing well together.”
Key to defending their Little 4 title will be senior Naschewen Hunsucker, who is expected to lead the way on both sides of the plate.
“I expect a lot out of her this year,” the coach said of the experienced catcher who also provides a big bat.
Three other seniors are also expected to play a big role this season.
The versatile Karlee Lewis will play in the outfield and at third base, and elsewhere if needed, while Alanis Baldy will play second base and some outfield.
Jasmine Kinney, who is just returning from an ankle injury is expected to return to first base, where she has been solid the past couple of years.
The Warriors will travel to play at tournaments in Redding and McKinleyville the next two weekends, before opening conference play.
And they expect to challenge for another league crown.
“I feel pretty confident, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” Ryan Colegrove said. “We’ve got to show up and play.”