Like those before her, Julissa Perales patiently waited her turn.
Her passion has always been for fastpitch, and without a doubt, her love is being behind the plate. Catcher is her natural position; calling her own games and thriving in that leadership role is what she does best.
But before she could step into that spot for Capital High School, she was needed elsewhere.
Perales is a four-year starter for the Cougars but is in just her second season as the starting catcher. She was Capital’s second baseman as a freshman and sophomore while Kassy Williamson was putting together an all-league résumé at catcher.
What Perales initially saw as intimidating, playing second base, she came to view as a good challenge.
“I’ve always caught,” Perales said. “I never played anywhere else.”
Turns out, she was a natural at second, earning second-team all-league honors her sophomore season. And when Williamson graduated, Perales became catcher her junior season, returning to the position she grew up loving, one that feels “automatic.”
“Every play involves you,” Perales said. “You’re always involved some way, somehow. Fastpitch is my niche. It’s always been my life outside of school and family.”
Fastpitch and Perales have gone hand in hand since she was age 4. Perales is a year-round player who has devoted herself to the sport full time since right before her freshman season. She currently plays on the Washington Lady Hawks traveling team.
Her picture-perfect swing and big bat will be key for the Cougars, who feature many underclassmen and some new faces in the infield. Perales batted better than .300 last season and had 20 hits. She came up clutch when the postseason began – collecting big hits and RBI at the district tournament to lead the Cougars to the Class 3A state tournament.
“She’s a dandy,” Capital coach Mel Weems said. “This is her year to really shine. I can’t say enough good things about her. She’s a solid kid, and a good kid to have around.”
Returning seniors Perales, Emily Brine and Sarah Fondaw give the Cougars three cornerstones. Capital enters the season in search of its fifth state berth in six seasons, though the Cougars haven’t earned a state trophy since they were runners-up in 2007. The Class 3A state tournament this year will be close to home, at Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
The Cougars have six non-league games to solidify their lineup, specifically who will play first and second bases.
There’s also a fresh face in the pitching circle. Perales’ batterymate is freshman Britni Wilson, who has a nice changeup, Perales said. The senior-freshman tandem started working together during the offseason in preparation for their one high school season together, and that relationship has already paid dividends.
“She hits her spots really well,” Perales said. “Her pitches are really developing.”
Should Perales’ fastpitch career extend beyond high school, she said her program of choice would be Linfield College, an NCAA Division III powerhouse in recent years. In the past four years, the Wildcats, from McMinnville, Ore., have played in two national championship games.
“I’ve picked up a ball, and haven’t put it down and have no desire to put it down,” Perales said. “Softball has brought me more than a sport. It has taught me discipline and brought me really great memories.”
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473
2011 PREP FASTPITCH OUTLOOK
Black Hills Wolves
Coach: Nikki Winkley (first year).
Last season: 4-13 overall.
Returning starters: Liz Smith, so., P; Liana McCann, jr., IF; Taylor Pottschmidt, jr., IF.
Top newcomers/other key returners: None listed.
Coach’s outlook: “We were happy to have 34 girls come out to play this year, allowing us to have a C-team, the first time since 2002. We hope to have the girls speak for themselves this year. We will do it by being respectful and having fun playing fastpitch. They are all amazing athletes and are buying into the new methods we are teaching.”
Coach: Mel Weems (11th year).
Last season: 20-6 overall, advanced to state.
Returning starters: Julissa Perales, sr., C; Emily Brine, sr., OF; Sarah Fondaw, jr., OF; Alex Barrett, Jones, jr., IF; Alex Beckwith, jr., OF; Jenna Thill, so., IF; Charlie Brossart, so., 2B/IF/OF; Alisha Glaspe, so., IF/OF.
Top newcomers/other key returners: Britni Wilson, fr., P; Sammy Williamson, fr., OF; Genny Leitch, jr., 3B, Taylor Conley, sr., OF.
Coach: Ken Olson (19th year).
Last season: 19-5 overall, co-EvCo champions, advanced to state.
Returning starters: Jenny Milton, sr., OF; Parker Pocklington, so., IF; Erika Brower, so., P.
Top newcomers/other key returners: Tarah Land, sr., IF; Hannah Westley, sr., IF; Abby Slorey, so., C; Katie Gabbard, so., OF.
Coach’s outlook: “Out team has great senior leadership that will hopefully carry over to the field. Because this is such a strong league, we have committed to being ready for that first league game.”
Coach: Mike Keen (ninth year).
Last season: 23-4 overall, co-EvCo champions, third at state.
Returning starters: Kenna Tornow, so., 2B; Kalynn Randt, jr., P; Marissa Reynolds, so., OF; Haley Graham, jr., P; Lauren Fisher, jr., OF; Dani Braun, jr., SS; Kaitlyn Girardin, jr., 3B
Top newcomers/other key returners: Amber Taylor, jr., C.
Coach’s outlook: “If we can effectively replace the four starters who graduated, we should be in the thick of things.”
Coach: Janene Thompson (first year).
Returning starters: Christina DeMar, sr., C/3B; Kayla Peterson, sr., SS/CF; Amanda Anderson, sr., 1B; Amanda Rupright, jr., P; Jodi Schumate, jr., 3B; Regan Wollen, so., C/2B; Taylor Wilson, so., OF.
Top newcomers/other key returners: Mariah McBride, sr., OF; Brooke Goldsmith, fr., P; Sydney Smythe, fr., OF.
Coach’s outlook: “As my first year here in Elma, my expectations are not on the low end. I coached many of these girls this past summer, and if they are as successful this season as we were in the summer with the added talent of the seniors, I expect us to see postseason play.”
North Thurston Rams
Coach: Marie Fluke (second year).
Last season: 2-16 overall.
Returning starters: Victoria Ferguson, sr., 3B; Brianna Perry, jr., 1B; Dakota Haukom, sr., P; Sam Seipel, sr., SS; Devany Lemar, jr., 2B; Alisa Feliciano, so., C.
Top newcomers/other key returners: None listed.
Coach’s outlook: “This year, we look forward to showing improvement in all areas of the game. We have many players from last season returning and are excited about the potential newcomers. Overall, we look forward to an exciting, competitive season.”
Coach: Matt Loes (fourth year).
Last season: 10-12 overall.
Returning starters: Emma Kelly-Glasoe, sr., SS; Emma Miller, sr., CF; Mackenzie Loete, sr., P/1B; Alicia Jackson, sr., P/IF; Megan Goodman, jr., RF; Marie Beagle, jr., LF; Nikki Schroeder, so., C/P; Gabby Braniff, so., C/3B; Kelsey Randich, sr., P/IF.
Top newcomers/other key returners: Corinne Loncar, fr., IF.
Coach’s outlook: “We feel that we’ve got a very talented and athletic group of players. With eight returners and some depth, we look forward to being very competitive.”
Coach: Don Franklin (13th year)
Last season: 10-10 overall, advanced to district tournament.
Returning starters: Cassidy Ballenger, so., 1B/OF; Courtney Harkelroad, jr., 3B; Shayna Ivy, jr., SS/OF; Justin Jones, jr., OF/DH; MiAna Madrid, jr., P; Kasey Moelhmann, jr., 1B; Mikaila Mortlock, jr., 2B; Jackie Naymann, so., C; Kata Schoenherr, jr., OF: Ashley Stancil, jr., 2B/OF
Top newcomers/other key returners: MacKenzie Anderson, fr., 2B; Lacey Day, fr., P; Biancha Elwell, fr. C; Katelynn Ivy, fr. SS; Brittany Schaff, fr. P; Chyna Tran, so., C; Chelsea Owens, 1B/P; Tori Skinner, so., 3B.
Coach’s outlook: “We expect to finish in the top four in league, and place at district to earn a trip to the state tournament in Spokane. We know it is a tough league, and we will have to stay focused and play consistently good ball.”
River Ridge Hawks
Coach: Jami Gore (fifth year).
Last season: 5-15 overall.
Returning starters: Victoria Ness, sr., C; Kaylee Manley, sr., CF; Bria Manley, sr., LF.
Top newcomers/other key returners: None listed.
Coach’s outlook: “This is a rebuilding year for us. We have only three returning varsity players and no returning pitcher. We will be concentrating on building team cohesion and hitting the ball.”
Coach: Kim Goldsby (second year).
Last season: 9-14 overall.
Returning starters: Jordanne Krumpols, jr., C; Madison Gaa, sr., P; Amy Morris, jr., CF; Kylie Schnitzer, jr., IF; Brittany Chamberlin, sr., OF.
Top newcomers/other key returners: Miranda Graden, sr., OF; Jackie Gable, sr., 1B/OF; Cassie Crabtree, fr., IF; Kelsey Albaugh, fr., IF/OF; Brynnen Beierle, fr., IF; Lynae Brown, IF/OF/P.
Coach’s outlook: “(The) team is quick and young. Very competitive, very dedicated. They are eager to learn and committed to improve personally and as a team. I have a lot of charismatic individuals who contribute to team morale.”
Coach: Sonya Ramos (second year).
Last season: Blazers won Western Cascade Conference title, advanced to district tournament.
Returning starters: Gatalina Schuster, sr., C; Jessica Maldonado, sr., 2B; Kiley Hanratty, sr., SS; McKenzie Raben, sr., OF; Jenny Leyva, sr., OF; Kami Owens, jr., 1B.
Top newcomers/other key returners: Haley Adams, so., 3B; Jessica White, fr., 2B; Krista Jones, fr., OF; Rebecca Nelson, so., P; Maria Velez-Kraft, fr., P/2B; Ashley Baker, jr., OF.
Coach’s outlook: “To play one game at a time, go out, work hard, and have fun.”
Coach: Clay Hill (14th year).
Last season: 17-6 overall, advanced to district tournament.
Returning starters: Kierstin Smith, jr., P; Sarah Orgill, jr., 2B; Lakeisha Anger, sr., OF; Gabby Johnson, jr., 1B; April Wells, jr., CF; Ashley Wells, jr. SS.
Top newcomers/other key returners: Britanny Skinner, jr., OF; Taryn Weiks, jr., C/OF; Kaylene Glasgo, fr., C; Makayla Glasgo, fr., P/1B; Alexa McDaniel, fr., C; Alyssa Ubrun, fr., SS/3B; Gabby Vidallon, fr., 2B/RF.
“Coach’s outlook: “The T-Birds’ strength is team pride and the tradition of pitching, defense and hustle. We have a good combination of quality players with varsity experience and freshmen ready to contribute. The T-Birds will be exciting to watch.”
Coach: Lindsay Walton (sixth year).
Last season: 9-9 overall.
Returning starters: Tessa Matthews, so., SS; Jaynani Cababat, jr., utility; Megan Bishop, so., OF: Morgan Bishop, so., 2B; Courtney Madsen, jr., 1B; Brandi Romero, jr., 3B; Brittany Lunsford, sr., utility.
Top newcomers/other key returners: Lauren Voight, so., P; Jessica Amundsen, jr., C; Aleah Roseen, fr., C.
Coach’s outlook: “This season is looking quite promising. With key returning players at multiple positions and new talent added at the mound and behind the plate, we look to have a successful season with high hopes of making it to end-of-season play.”
Meg Wochnick, staff writer
Team information provided by participating coaches