Chiefs look for deep run with core returning

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  • Casey McCarthy/ Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake head coach Michael Hofheins talks with his players after practice as the slow-pitch prepares for their first game against Mt. Spokane on Wednesday, Sept.18.

  • 1

    Casey McCarthy/ Columbia Basin Herald A Moses Lake player makes the throw to first with a runner sliding in during a practice scrimmage on Wednesday, Sept.4.

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    Casey McCarthy/ Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake slow-pitch softball gears back up towards the start of the season after finishing fourth at State last fall.

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    Casey McCarthy/Columbia Basin Herald Above: Senior Gina Skinner makes the throw to first base during practice as the Chiefs prepare for the 2019 season. Below: Moses Lake head coach Michael Hofheins talks with his players after practice as the slow-pitch team prepares for their first game against Mt. Spokane on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

  • Casey McCarthy/ Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake head coach Michael Hofheins talks with his players after practice as the slow-pitch prepares for their first game against Mt. Spokane on Wednesday, Sept.18.

  • 1

    Casey McCarthy/ Columbia Basin Herald A Moses Lake player makes the throw to first with a runner sliding in during a practice scrimmage on Wednesday, Sept.4.

  • 2

    Casey McCarthy/ Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake slow-pitch softball gears back up towards the start of the season after finishing fourth at State last fall.

  • 3

    Casey McCarthy/Columbia Basin Herald Above: Senior Gina Skinner makes the throw to first base during practice as the Chiefs prepare for the 2019 season. Below: Moses Lake head coach Michael Hofheins talks with his players after practice as the slow-pitch team prepares for their first game against Mt. Spokane on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

MOSES LAKE — Returning the core of a strong team last season, the Moses Lake slow-pitch softball team expects to make another deep run into the postseason, with their eyes on the finals.

The Chiefs were dominant last season, before coming up just a pair of games short of their goal of a state title last season, taking fourth place in Richland. Head coach Michael Hofheins said with a so many returning varsity players from last year, the coaches have tried to use the first few days of practice to gauge some of the players who might fill spots opened up.

“We try and use these first few days to get some eyes on those kids we don’t know and see what they can do,” Hofheins said. “We have a pretty good chunk of returning varsity players, but we’re gonna need a few girls to step in and be role players.” The Moses Lake coach said he’s also working with his players to help fine tune some of the changes in defensive strategies and other minute differences that exist between the fast-pitch and slow-pitch game.

On the mound, Hofheins said he expects Hadleigh Cranston and Ciarrah Knoll to be two main pitchers for the Chiefs this year. Hofheins complimented Cranston’s ability to be smart with her pitches, getting batters to reach with two strikes. For Knoll, the Chiefs head coach said the junior can be “pretty tough” when she gets her knuckleball going.

Senior Gina Skinner is another player who Hofheins believes will be one of the strong leaders for the team this season.

“Her head’s always in the game,” Hofheins said. “She hustles. She’s really good with the younger players. She really has a ton of leadership ability.”

After a few years of relying on underclassmen more than usual, experience is no longer an issue, with eight or nine returning varsity players this season.

“My first three years coaching the program, it’s we’re young, we’re young, we’re young,” Hofheins said. “And we’re not young anymore, so it’s time to harvest.”

The Chiefs open the season on the road with a non-conference doubleheader against the defending champs, Mt. Spokane, on Sept. 18. Hofheins said he feels this week be a great gauge for where his team is going into the rest of the season.

The Moses Lake head coach said he feels the Chiefs should be a top team in the Columbia Basin Big Nine this fall, and has his goal set on being right in the mix of things at the state tournament in early November.

“We’d be disappointed if we’re not in the finals,” Hofheins said. “I think we should have been there last year, and I think we’re gonna be better, more savvy.”

The Chiefs’ home opener will be Sept. 24 against Hermiston.

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