Chloe Young might be the best — certainly the most consistent — of all the college-bound mashers on this Enumclaw High School fastpitch team.
She, like some of her teammates, plans to go to college, choosing Washington State University.
Only, WSU doesn’t have a softball program.
The shortstop and No. 3 hitter for the Hornets said she turned down opportunities to play in college and decided this would be her last year of competitive play. She wants to seek a degree in nursing.
“Me and my dad talked a lot about it because he definitely wants me to play,” Young said. “I kind of just decided that I wanted to focus more on my career and get that going.”
So why nursing?
“Since I was little I wanted to be a surgeon. Then after a few years I was like, ‘Maybe I should go a little bit lower, maybe I’ll go for doctor.’ And then after that I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll start out trying to be a nurse and see how it goes.’ ”
Young has batted better than .450 for her career with a slugging percentage that’s never finished lower than .670 for a season.
She bats behind blazing center fielder Tammy Wilkening, who plans to play at Central Washington next year, and in front of Quinn Breidenbach, a junior committed to UMass. Enumclaw coach Mike Eckhart said Young could easily play for a Division I school if she wanted to.
“I figure it’s the colleges’ loss,” Eckhart said. “But I think it’s great that she knows where she wants to go and what she wants to do.”
The Hornets had won a school-record 28 games with no losses entering last year’s 3A state championship game. Young got a hit in the seventh to put the tying run on base, but Enumclaw fell to three-time champ Kamiakin, 4-2.
But with all this talent back this year, Enumclaw hopes to once again contend for its first state title.
Young is so focused that she said she doesn’t hang out with friends outside her softball team during the season. She said she has never been part of a team that has as good chemistry as this year’s group.
Maybe enchiladas have something to do with that.
Once every week during the season, a different player hosts team dinner at her house. Last week, it was Young’s turn and her mother went with a fiesta theme — complete with enchiladas, chips and dip, and a taco bar. (Young said she would have helped had practice not gone late that day.)
“I don’t eat bread, personally. So no tortillas, no pizza, pancakes, waffles, sandwiches — no nothing,” Breidenbach said. “I think as a little kid I tried it and didn’t like it so my mom didn’t feed it to me. But I actually ate like one and a half of those (enchiladas) and they were so amazing. So good.”
It’s yet to be determined whether they were better than last year’s Forza Pasta — named after since-graduated catcher Becky Forza — which was apparently formulated with classified ingredients.
“We don’t know the (details) on it. We really have no idea,” Young said. “It was just a cheesy pasta, but it was awesome. The best dish.”
Said Breidenbach, “You could literally eat that until your stomach explodes. It’s like Thanksgiving dinner, but Italian style.”
Breidenbach batted .520 last year and was named the Class 3A South Puget Sound League’s most valuable pitcher with a 0.62 ERA and 235 strikeouts. Wilkening hit .400 with 17 stolen bases, and Madelyn Carlson hit .430. Enumclaw was ranked No. 50 in the MaxPreps 2015 preseason national softball rankings.
But there’s a reason Young bats third, and it’s partly because she’s struck out only six times in 211 plate appearances the past two seasons.
She was initially a right-handed hitter when she joined the Acers club team of Auburn as an 8-year-old. But she switched to the left side of the plate because that was the same as her sister Kassi (a 2009 graduate of Enumclaw). But that didn’t go well. So she switched back to her right before going back to her left just before she entered high school.
It paid off after many hours working with her coach at the Acers, Mark Anderton.
“You are going to have to get her out because she’s not going to get herself out,” Eckhart said. “I just figured it ran in the family because Kassi was a great contact hitter, too. They both have great hand-eye coordination. Being in the third spot, you want a really tough out, and that’s what she is.”
After the sting of last year’s lone loss, Young hopes to close out her senior year with a state trophy before she heads to WSU.
“It sucks that this is going to be my last year,” Young said. “But I’m just going to try to make it my best year.”