Sehome coach Jim Emerson has been around long enough to know what a surplus of quality pitching can do for a softball club.
“Any coach will tell you in this game you can never have enough pitching,” Emerson said. “And when you have two good, young ones, it does great things for you.”
The impact of Mariners freshmen Megan Hall and Savannah Smith may have surprised some Northwest Conference teams this spring, but Emerson knew heading into the season what he was getting — exactly what Sehome needed to pair with a lineup that can flat-out hit.
While freshmen placing their stamp on a varsity team’s season isn’t unheard of, it’s certainly rare, and the Mariners have been benefiting big time from Hall and Smith.
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Sehome enjoyed a terrific season a year ago, qualifying for the Class 2A State Tournament before exiting with a 1-2 record. The Mariners could hit, but freshman pitcher Carissa McDowell had to shoulder nearly all the circle duty.
Infuse Smith and Hall into the equation, and Sehome heads into postseason play with a key piece needed to make a strong run.
The Mariners (17-3) open the Class 2A District Tournament as the No. 5 seed and open play against Granite Falls at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at Janicki Fields in Sedro-Woolley.
“We’ve both had big strikeout games, but it’s pretty easy to be a pitcher on Sehome because we know we have the defense that we have,” Hall said. “And we know even if we give up 10 runs, which we haven’t, we have confidence in our hitters in our lineup that we can go score 20.”
Logging most of Sehome’s innings, Hall and Smith have offered the Mariners a potent one-two punch. Sehome is allowing 4.3 runs per game, and three total runs is the difference between a 17-3 and a possible 20-0 record.
Both pitchers throw hard, and even as freshman, they have myriad pitches in their arsenal.
Emerson’s first glimpse of Smith as a varsity competitor came this past summer during a two-week summer ball season in Lynden. Smith was striking out 10 batters a game.
“Savannah has come a long way,” Emerson said. “ She just has a ton of potential. She is young and still makes rookie mistakes, but I’m hoping she gets to that point in the next few years where she can just become dominant.”
Hall, who also catches and plays first base, has gotten first-hand experience of the pace at which Smith can throw with.
“I catch her a lot, and she throws really hard,” Hall explained. “It hurts my hand sometimes. First game to now, she has so much movement on her ball.”
What’s really impressive about Hall’s and Smith’s season is that they’ve never been overwhelmed playing in the spotlight. Both have logged many innings playing in select tournaments, which undoubtedly has helped.
“I kind of work better under pressure, so there hasn’t been really any nervousness about it,” Smith said.
And they seemed to have meshed seamlessly with Sehome’s older players.
While Smith is developing as a hitter, Hall arguably has been more important to her team with her bat than her arm. Back in the day, Emerson explained, he’d be thrilled to have three hitters who bat for a .400-plus average.
The hitting numbers Sehome is logging this year are unreal. The team owns a .435 average. Rebekah Miksovsky (.419), Lauren Dodge (.491), Carissa McDowell (.590) and Tori McDowell (.594) are all hitting over .400, and leading the team is Hall at .616. She also leads the team in doubles (14) and runs (40).
“In Megan’s case, I knew she was a good hitter,” Emerson said. “I didn’t realize how good of a hitter she was. She can put one out at any park at any time.”
Sehome’s surely hoping a few fly out at Janicki Fields this week.
Class 2A District Tournament
Sehome vs. Granite Falls
Archbishop Murphy vs. Lynden
Bellingham vs. Cedarcrest
When: 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 18
Where: Janicki Fields in Sedro-Woolley