Spring Sports Preview: Wildcats seek a turnaround

New Oak Harbor High School softball coach Chris Rankin brings a lot of experience to the plate.

Rankin played college baseball at Virginia Commonwealth University where he was a catcher, and then spent one season as head baseball coach at William and Mary.

“I was kind of thrown into the breach at William and Mary. Their head coach moved up to the big leagues and here I was, 25 years old, in a head college coaching position,” he said.

Rankin is now nearing the end of a 20-year Navy career and flies Prowlers out of NAS Whidbey Island, and decided this is the time to get back into coaching.

“During my career in the Navy,

I played five years of fastpitch softball, just sort of to keep up with the playing angle of the game,” he said.

Rankin knows the game of softball and is a good teacher, just

what is needed for the formidable task of turning around the Wild-

cats’ program.

Last year, Oak Harbor started the season strong by winning its first two non-league games, but then dropped the next 17 straight games to finish the year 0-16 in the WesCo North and 2-17 overall.

The Wildcats have some returning talent in seniors Jessie Kallender and Anna Skurdal, both of whom were voted second team WesCo North all-stars last season.

Joining the duo is senior Deanna Rafferty who got in a lot of playing time last year.

Junior returnees include pitcher Kayla Ratliff and Kim Mowbray.

“We’ve got a little bit of age on the team, but we have basically a young nucleus,” Rankin said.

Ratliff was the starting pitcher last season and Mowbray is expected to play one of the infield positions when not pitching.

New players include seniors Amber Hamming and Samantha Shulock, and junior Mary Ryan who transferred from Anacortes.

Other new players on the varsity roster are sophomore pitcher Emily Meagher and sophomore catcher Nikki Mowbray, who both played on the junior varsity last year.

“Hamming hasn’t played much, but she has come a long way,” Rankin said. “Shulock didn’t play last year, but she could find a spot on the infield.”

Also out for the team is junior infielder Kaylee Meders.

Looking for some pitching depth, Rankin hopes to develop some talent in the ranks of sophomore Whitney Osborne and freshman Bailey Martinez.

Oak Harbor opens the season on the road at Mariner March 12, and hosts Lynnwood in a 4 p.m. non-league game Friday, March 14, at Hillcrest Elementary School.

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