Sumner High softball had a down year last season — and that’s putting it mildly after the Spartans finished in last place in the Class 2A South Puget Sound League as wins were hard to come by.
A year later, Sumner (0-2) is looking to its youth to help the program rebound and get back on a winning track with the leadership of junior captains Chloe Oyadomari, McKenna Eidal and Hannah Wilson.
It’s about a change in culture for the Spartans.
“We have a young team this year, so we don’t know what we have in terms of proven talent,” Sumner coach Megan Gaines said. “The hope is that the younger players will take the lead of our captains and just improve each day.”
Whether it’s the free-smiling Oyadamari or the stern focus of Eidel, it’s not hard to see players gravitating toward them.
Sumner’s batterymates bring their own unique personality to the team, but it’s not in the typical roles befitting both pitcher Eidal and catcher Oyadomari’s positions in the field.
“Chloe’s not verbal at all — I’m the verbal one on the team,” Edial said.
“I would be, but she’s in charge,” jabbed Oyadomari at Eidal. “She’s a circle princess … we’re all really tight-knit together. I know they’re listening to me.”
Listen and follow is what the players hope. If the rest of the team can work together, then Sumner has the ability to turn things around after years of futility.
“Right from tryouts, I was ready to go,” Eidal said. “If we get ground balls, we have a good defense … if we can swing the bats, then we’ll be fine.”
If change if going to happen, it has to start with the attitude. The Spartans have to believe they can go toe to toe with the best teams because the training wheels are off after moving up the Class 3A SPSL.
“I think that if we all play well together as a team — even as a young team — I think that the talent is better than past years,” Wilson said. “All the juniors have stepped up and kind of taken over. The leadership is better this year.”
The hopes and aspirations of turning the Sumner program around will happen while trying to become accustomed to a tough league. But Wilson is confident that her Sumner teammates can do it, they just have to know no player is alone in this battle.
“It doesn’t really matter how you play personally, but if you play well together then that makes the difference,” Wilson said.