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Triumphant Tritons tie school’s win record

Women's softball finished second in the region and fourth in the Northwest Athletic Conference.

The+EdCC+women%E2%80%99s+softball+team+attended+the+2017+NWAC+Hall+of+Fame+Banquet+on+Thursday%2C+June+1.+This+2017+softball+team+tied+the+school+record+for+most+wins+in+a+season.
The EdCC women’s softball team attended the 2017 NWAC Hall of Fame Banquet on Thursday, June 1. This 2017 softball team tied the school record for most wins in a season.

The EdCC women’s softball team attended the 2017 NWAC Hall of Fame Banquet on Thursday, June 1. This 2017 softball team tied the school record for most wins in a season.

Triton Athletics

Triton Athletics

The EdCC women’s softball team attended the 2017 NWAC Hall of Fame Banquet on Thursday, June 1. This 2017 softball team tied the school record for most wins in a season.

Ian Moffet, Opinion Editor

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The Edmonds Community College women’s softball team ended the season last month with an amazing 35 wins and only 10 losses. The Tritons tied a school record by achieving 35 wins in a season. In the North Region for softball, they finished second overall.

The Tritons made it to the NWAC championship (Northwest Athletic Conference) in Spokane this season as well, beating Chemeketa Community College with an 11-2 victory.

Unfortunately, that would be the last win of the season for the Tritons, who first lost 9-12 to Clackamas Community College in a back-and-forth match, and subsequently ended their season in a 2-11 loss to Bellevue College, the Tritons’ only loss to Bellevue in their 5 matchups this season. You can check out the EdCC Triton’s Women’s softball team stats in full at the NWAC website, www.nwacsports.org, under Softball, Stats and Teams.

We got a chance to interview Sheryl Gilmore, the head coach for the EdCC women’s softball team. We were also able to interview Pitcher Lesieli Aholelei, two-time NWAC player of the week this season, with over a .500 batting average to complete the season. She was second in the NWAC in home runs and garnered 14 wins as a pitcher.

How do you and the team feel overall about the year?

Gilmore: I am so proud of this team and their success this season. Thirty-five wins is really difficult to do in the NWAC, and it is a product of all the work they put in during the off-season. These girls showed up in early in the morning all fall and winter to lift in the weight room, pushed through their speed and agility workouts, relentlessly found ways to improve their hitting and got 1 percent better on defense every time they took the field. They took the time to learn and respect the details of the game and then found a way to put it together with each other as a team.

A long off-season can turn off a lot of players, but I think it fired this team up. It was fun to watch them improve every day and then see them cut it loose when we finally made it to season. They were always taking steps forward. I know it didn’t end the way we wanted it to when we made it to the NWAC Championship tournament, but that isn’t on them, it’s on me. The 17 girls on this team should be proud of everything they accomplished on and off the field.

What were some of the hardest challenges to overcome this year?

Gilmore: Every season has its unique challenges. This has been one of the most talented teams I have ever coached, and I know that doesn’t sound like a challenge, but when you have a very talented team, that means you have a lot of talented players, and when you have a lot of talented players, you typically have a lot of players who are used to starting every game. That becomes a challenge when you have 17 skilled, passionate and competitive softball players and only 9 spots on the field. It’s tough for any player who has worked their tail off, not only every day of the season, but most days of their life since they started playing the game, to not see their name on the lineup card day in and day out, and that can create some issues on a team.

As the season went on, this team learned to manage those emotions by focusing on and getting excited for the success of their teammates instead of their success as an individual. While it can be very challenging to put yourself second, it is necessary in order to become a great team. With time, they bought into the fact that nobody was bigger than the team and that on any given day any player on this team could be the one that comes up with the big play.

The girls worked while they waited, and any player that didn’t start stayed engaged and ready for every opportunity – that is a big reason why this team was so successful. Examples like Hannah Baisch hitting an insane FIVE pinch hit home runs, including a pinch hit grand slam to win a game. Emily Copeland batting .600 and coming up with clutch hits in high pressure situations without very many at-bats under her belt.

Ashley Fitzgerald had close to a .500 on base percentage as a pinch hitter with a bunch of quality at-bats in big moments. Emma Bollinger came up big in a comeback win against one of the best pitchers in the NWAC. Tamia Hirano started every game for us, and while she had some really big hits, she was frequently asked to bunt runners over into scoring position for someone else to drive in. She did her job, no questions asked, and started a lot of big innings that way.

Another great example is Melissa Eik, who rotated into a starting role this year but had an almost exclusive role as a pinch runner last year. There were four games last year where she scored the winning run when the player that she ran for wouldn’t have made it home – FOUR games that we won because she not only did her job, but she selflessly took pride in becoming the best baserunner on the team. If we would have lost just one of those games, we wouldn’t have made it to the NWAC Championships.

I could go through our whole roster and give you examples of each player putting the team’s success before their own. THAT is what it means to be a selfless teammate, and that is why these young ladies have been so successful. They look for and embrace any opportunity to help the team win – there is no job too small and there is no player too big. At the end of the day, it took every single player on this team to get those 35 wins, and each one of them is responsible for this team’s success. They rooted for each other, they fought for each other and they protected each other. They lived our motto, “hold the rope.” They battled together, 17 on 1, arm in arm to the very last pitch of the season.

What were some highlights of the season?

Gilmore: This team’s biggest challenge became their biggest highlight. I know the word “family” gets thrown around a lot on teams, but this team really became one unit, one soul, one heartbeat. By the end of the season, my job was just to get out of their way and let them compete as team for each other. They did that and I am so proud of them for carrying each other through this season.

Lesieli, how was your overall experience this year playing for EdCC Tritons Softball?

Aholelei: My overall experience my first year playing for Edmonds CC softball has been a great, successful one! I felt that the moment that I made my commitment to come here to Edmonds and play softball, was the right and best decision I would make. This year’s softball team has made such an impact on the program but also a big impact on each other’s lives. I grew up being very shy and quiet, but having to play on this Triton softball team has changed me so much in so many ways. Words will never describe it. They’ve made my experiences on and off the field unforgettable. Everyone on this team, including my coaches, have played such a big part of my life, and I am grateful to have been apart of such an amazing team. My experiences here this year will always be remembered.

Looking forward, how do you plan on keeping your success going for next season, and what are your plans in the long run involving softball?

Aholelei: I feel that to move forward with playing this game, I know that working hard will always be the key to everything if I plan to succeed for next year’s season. I have no problem with putting in extra work and 100 percent effort into becoming a better player every day until the season starts up again. It just takes time and some trust in the process.

My plan in the long run is to really just see how far I can challenge and take myself up to playing at a four-year university. I’ve been focusing on really trying to get an opportunity to play for the Huskies but am also keeping my options open to whatever school will offer me.

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Triumphant Tritons tie school’s win record