FASTPITCH PREVIEW '11: Kentridge, Crusch looking to unload this spring

She doesn’t need a nickname. In fact, the name she was born with serves perfectly, especially for a kid on the fastpitch diamond who can swing the bat with the kind of authority that Kentridge High’s Haley Crusch delivers on a regular basis for the Chargers. As stated, Crusch crushes. Over the plate. Inside. Outside. High. Low. It really doesn’t matter to the Kentridge junior. She hits ‘em all. “That’s kind of my nickname,” Crusch said about her last name. “It fits well.”

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, March 25, 2011 1:27pm
  • NewsSports

She doesn’t need a nickname.

In fact, the name she was born with serves perfectly, especially for a kid on the fastpitch diamond who can swing the bat with the kind of authority that Kentridge High’s Haley Crusch delivers on a regular basis for the Chargers.

As stated, Crusch crushes. Over the plate. Inside. Outside. High. Low.

It really doesn’t matter to the Kentridge junior. She hits ‘em all.

“That’s kind of my nickname,” Crusch said about her last name. “It fits well.”

Indeed it does.

So well, in fact, that Crusch was one of the top up-and-coming sophomores in the South Puget Sound League North Division a year ago. By the end of last spring Crusch, who will be playing shortstop and hitting fourth for the Charters this season, ranked among the league leaders in runs batted in (9), doubles (3) and showed plenty of speed, successfully stealing 7 of 7 bases. And, of course, she flexed her batting prowess with a pair of long balls.

“When I go to the plate, I don’t think of anything in particular,” said Crusch, a three-sport standout at Kentridge, where she also plays basketball and soccer. “My best pitch is inside. I love the inside.”

As the prep fastpitch season sets to unfold, Crusch will be leaned heavily upon by the Chargers, who graduated five seniors, including Pitcher of the Year Kelli Suguro and all-league third baseman Nicole Barger.

Kentridge coach Julie Simonson believes Crusch can handle the extra load.

“Haley’s pretty impressive. She has good athletic ability, is quick to the ball, has a good arm and she wants to hit,” Simonson said. “Just like her name, she just crushes it. Every time the ball comes off her bat, it’s hard.”

The Chargers will need Crusch’s offensive firepower to contend in an SPSL North that is more loaded than ever this year. A team comprised primarily of juniors (11), Kentridge is younger than most of their North Division counterparts. In addition, the Chargers will have a new look this spring. Without Suguro and honorable mention pitcher Danielle Orvella in the circle, Kentridge will be turning in large part to its offense. An offense that has considerable punch behind Crusch, Hannah Overall, Amanda Moen, Rianna Bidon and Ashleigh Mate among others.

“Our top six can hit super well and we all fit into the 3 or 4 slot in the batting order, so it’s really hard to choose the lineup,” Crusch said.

That offense put up 16 runs in its first two games of the season last week, but was victimized by porous defense and the customary rainy spring weather en route to a pair of nonleague losses.

“We want to hit the ball to where we’re making the other team score a lot of runs to win,” Simonson said.

And though the Chargers don’t yet have an ace in the Suguro mold, they do have plenty of capable arms in the circle, led by ace Kayla Andrus.

“There are big shoes to fill, definitely,” the coach noted. “But they’ve been OK. It’s definitely a staff where they will put the ball in play. Coming into the season, we felt that we had a defense that could handle that. Hopefully we can clean that up.”

Either way, the Chargers know they have an offense that should keep them in the playoff hunt all season long.

An offense led by a girl who doesn’t need a nickname.

Because Haley Crusch’s name itself says it all.

 

CHARGERS: AT A GLANCE

• COACH: Julie Simonson, fourth year.

• LAST YEAR: 11-5 in league (third), 17-11 overall.

• TOP RETURNERS: Haley Crusch, jr., ss; Hannah Overall, jr., utility; Ashleigh Mate, jr., catcher; Rianna Bidon, jr., first base; Kayla Andrus, jr., pitcher.

• TOP NEWCOMERS: Abby Bellin, jr., third base; Amanda Moen, jr., outfield; Ivy Wood, jr., outfield.

• OUTLOOK: The Chargers have the offense to be in the thick of the playoff race, but will need steady pitching and defense to get there. With 11 juniors on the roster, this is a team with a bright future.

• LAST STATE APPEARANCE: 2002 (state champions).


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