Sky’s the limit for Moses Lake softball

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  • Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake’s Paige Valdez charges to field a bunt during practice Tuesday at Moses Lake High School. Valdez was all-league honorable mention at first base last season.

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    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake sophomore Gina Skinner listens to instruction from head coach Mike Hofheins.

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    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake Brooke Richardson returns as the CBBN Offensive Player of the Year.

  • Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake’s Paige Valdez charges to field a bunt during practice Tuesday at Moses Lake High School. Valdez was all-league honorable mention at first base last season.

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    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake sophomore Gina Skinner listens to instruction from head coach Mike Hofheins.

  • 2

    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake Brooke Richardson returns as the CBBN Offensive Player of the Year.

MOSES LAKE — Last year, it appeared Moses Lake’s reign atop the Columbia Basin Big Nine would be in jeopardy.

How would a pair of freshmen pitchers and a roster comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores fare?

Turns out, just fine.

Moses Lake defended its league and district championships on its way back to the Class 4A state tournament.

Now, the roster has an influx of new talent as well as several seasoned players with two or more varsity seasons to go.

“The freshmen class is extremely talented,” head coach Mike Hofheins said. “We’re very blessed with a lot of good softball talent so our goal is to be better. However that happens, we just want to be better. We were not bad last year, but our goal is to just improve.”

Moses Lake had nine all-league selections in 2017 — seven return.

Offensive Player of the Year and first-team second baseman Brooke Richardson highlights that group.

“It’s my last year so I want to go out as hard as a possibly can,” she said. “Hope for the best and maybe look for that MVP title.”

Gina Skinner, Savannah Ashley, Brooklyn Bailey, Gabi Rios, Paige Valdez and Michelle Turner join Richardson as all-league returners.

Skinner and Ashley return to the circle with even more experience.

“They’re seasoned pitchers,” Hofheins said. “Regardless of their youth, they’ve played a ton of softball. They’re obviously physically more mature being a year older. They’re probably taller, stronger, mentally tougher — all the things that come along with being older. They didn’t really seem to act like freshmen last year, but certainly this year they’ve leaders of our team who we’re going to rely on.”

The Chiefs averaged just over 14 runs per game in CBBN games, which led to only two league losses and another league championship.

But just has Hofheins did not want to entertain any “rebuilding year” talk in 2017, he certainly doesn’t want the Chiefs to rest on their laurels in 2018.

“We’re the best team in the league on paper, but we’ve still got to play the games,” he said. “So, we’ve got to improve every day in practice. We’ve got to work harder than our opponents. We’ve got to be at place where when we get to the state tournament we’re peaking.

“We’re not satisfied just to make it to state. We want to bring home some hardware.”

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