Gulls rain on Cats' parade

New Oak Harbor fastpitch coach Rayna Trahan knows that inexperience and mistakes run hand in hand.

That’s why after the Wildcats lost their season-opener 9-3 to Everett on Monday afternoon, she didn’t get down.

With three freshmen and three sophomores in the starting lineup, Trahan expected some early season nerves.

“I’m really excited,” she said of her team’s first performance of 2004. “I feel like if we can get some of these jitters out of the way we can prevent some of our mental mistakes in the future.”

Mental mishaps were no doubt a major factor on Monday, as the Cats committed six total errors for the game.

Oak Harbor’s struggles were highlighted in the top of the third inning, when they allowed four runs on no hits, three errors, two walks, three wild pitches and one hit batter.

Along with a few bad decisions, the Cats weren’t helped by the weather. Just as the inning began, the rain that had held all day burst into a downpour. The wet ball obviously hampered the control of sophomore pitcher Ashley Howard.

“We haven’t had any rain to practice in the whole two weeks, so she really hasn’t had to struggle with that yet,” Trahan said.

Prior to the bad weather, Howard showed excellent control. She worked her way out of trouble in the first, retiring three batters in a row after allowing a lead-off triple.

“She was strong, she was right on,” Trahan said.

After their third-inning rally, Everett took a 4-1 advantage and never looked back.

The Seagulls tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth, one more in the fifth and two insurance runs in the seventh.

The Wildcats took the initial lead of the game in the bottom of the second inning when freshman Courtney Brown ripped a two-out RBI single over the first base bag.

Brown, who was only called up from junior varsity right before the game, had an excellent day for Oak Harbor, going 1-for-2 with a run scored and a walk.

“She did awesome,” Trahan said. “We just gave her a permanent roster spot for her performance.”

The Wildcats tacked on one more run in the fifth when Brown scored from third on a wild pitch. They scored their third run in the seventh when sophomore pinch hitter Ana McGrath came through with an RBI single.

Other Wildcats picking up hits, included senior Kristen Barone, junior Libbie Bear and sophomore Ashley Kingma.

Howard was unable to complete the game after going down with an ankle injury in the sixth. She pitched five and two-thirds innings, giving up four earned runs, five hits, four walks and three strikeouts. The status of her injury was unavailable as of press time.

Despite the loss, Trahan is optimistic things will only get better for the Wildcats this season.

“The girls can feel it too,” she said. “They’re excited we finished the game and remained competitive and aggressive the whole time.”

Oak Harbor has its next contest today, March 17 at non-league Bellingham. They then host Anacortes at 3:30 p.m., Friday, March 19 before traveling to Stanwood for their first league game, Tuesday, March 23.

Oak Harbor 0 1 0 0 1 0 1—3 7 6

Everett 0 0 4 2 1 0 2—9 8 1

OH-Howard, Degraaf (6) andBarone.

E-Carey, Hudson (5), Carey (6) and Baird.

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