Infielders can throw it wide, throw it high or throw it low. They can skip it, bounce it, hurry it or lob it. However they throw it — good or bad — one thing is certain for Gig Harbor High School softball players: Good luck getting it past the glove of junior Marin Malich at first base.
Malich, a 6-foot human vacuum of sorts, stretches, scoops and leaps for whatever comes her way. Her artistry at first base, on full display Friday against visiting South Kitsap, takes pressure off the Tides infielders to make a perfect throw.
"I have a lot of faith in my teammates to make good throws, but if I need to make a catch, I just trust in myself that I worked hard to get where I am, and if I’m going to make a good catch, I’m going to do it for the team," Malich said.
Coach Kara Dressel has come to expect near-flawless performances from Malich.
"She does amazing work," Dressel said. "You should’ve seen her at Yelm. She made like three scoops and got every call over there. She’s an all-conference first baseman and she’s huge for us. If she doesn’t pick something, then it’s a really bad throw. She’s amazing."
Malich is also not afraid to press the issue and give Gig Harbor a boost. In the third inning of Friday afternoon’s game, Malich got caught in a pickle on the basepaths between second and third base. She won the pickle and eventually scored — part of a four-run inning for the Tides.
"We are taught to be aggressive," Malich said. "Our coach has been telling us all season to start being aggressive."
Dressel was happy the message was sinking in.
"We started off not being aggressive," Dressel said. "We were a little more conservative. We’ve really tried to push the girls on being aggressive now. Once (South Kitsap’s) good catcher went down, we started running. We needed to get in scoring position every single time. So it’s really important to get in scoring position. I always would like to err on the side of aggression, versus being conservative."
Pitcher Abbie Hutten went deep into the game, holding the Wolves scoreless until the seventh and final inning. Gig Harbor (14-4 overall, 8-4 Narrows 4A) came out on top, 8-4.
"Hutten has been nasty," Dressel said. "She’s coming on strong. She has a nasty changeup, a little drop ball curve — just crazy movement. Sometimes we don’t know where it’s going. She had to battle through. It wasn’t her strike zone at first. He wasn’t giving her the low pitch. She figured out how to get ahead and just lost it a little bit at the end there."
Gig Harbor, now in sole possession of second place in the Narrows 4A, is feeling confident heading into the final stretch of the season.
"I think we’re looking good," Malich said. "We started really good in the preseason. We were winning a lot of games. We took a little dip in the middle but I think we’re going to get back, and I think we definitely have what it takes to make it to state and definitely get high up there in league. Hopefully we can pull it off."