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Spring Preview: New South Mercer playfield is boon to Islander fastpitch team
They just might have the fanciest field among KingCo fastpitch teams this spring, and the team certainly loves it.
“The girls are very excited,” said Mercer Island head softball coach, Jessica Steinle. “They feel very special.”
The South Mercer Playfields, located between Islander Middle School and Lakeridge Elementary, have been completely redone since last season and features a brand new turf fastpitch field.
Steinle said it has been an adjustment to play on the turf, which doesn’t have a dirt infield like traditional grass fields do, mostly in accounting for the way that the ball travels.
“They seem to be adjusting quickly,” said Steinle of the team. “I’m a little more nervous about going and playing on a dirt infield.”
The team’s captains, juniors Patti Chew and Yahnnica Tate, said they love the new field.
“It’s really nice,” said Chew. “I like it a lot more than playing on dirt.” Chew added that the team is working on adjusting to its reaction time because the ball bounces differently on the turf than it does with dirt.
The Islanders, who dealt with a rainy 2009 season that often brought cancellations and rescheduling, are looking to focus on playing to their potential this season. While the team did not win any games last year, Steinle said the outlook has been positive since practice started at the beginning of the month.
“Their attitude is very positive, and we have lots of hard workers,” said the coach, now in her fourth year. “This year, the team is united and very dedicated. I think, obviously, we want to be competitive. Last year, we’d practice really well, and at games it would kind of fall apart. We’d like to play seven innings every game, rather than have the run rule in place. We want to win, but our big goal is playing to our potential.”
The team of 20 girls, largely underclassmen, Steinle said, has three returning from last year’s team, including both captains. Of the group, only four have any playing experience, so the team has been focusing on learning fundamentals, Steinle said.
“This year the team already looks really good, better than we were last year,” said Chew.
While KingCo teams always make for tough competition, Steinle said they are looking forward to playing Sammamish later in April.
“The Sammamish team has a similar make-up to us. They have a relatively young team,” she said.
The Islanders will face Sammamish at home on April 21 at 4:30 p.m. The team’s first home game this season will be on Tuesday, April 6, against Bellevue, also at 4:30 p.m.
3/25 4:30 PM vs. Garfield
4/5 4:30 PM @ Interlake
4/6 4:30 PM vs. Bellevue
4/8 4:00 PM @ Garfield
4/12 4:30 PM @ Liberty (RENTON)
4/14 4:30 PM vs. Mount Si
4/19 4:30 PM @ Juanita
4/21 4:30 PM vs. Sammamish
4/23 4:30 PM vs. Interlake
4/26 4:30 PM @ Bellevue
4/28 4:30 PM vs. Liberty (RENTON)
4/30 4:30 PM @ Mount Si
5/3 4:00 PM @ Federal Way
5/5 4:30 PM vs. Juanita
5/7 4:00 PM @ Sammamish
5/7 4:30 PM @ Sammamish *Rescheduled* Location: TBD