Eagle River's Destinie Rainer decides to wait for the next pitch during the Wolves' 11-2 win over Bartlett on April 23 at Albrecht Fields in Anchorage.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH
It took exactly one game for Eagle River's softball team to equal its win total from last season. Two games in, and the Wolves had doubled that mark.
"We're already ahead of the pace," said coach Kevin Murphy after the Wolves went to 2-0 with an 11-2 win over Bartlett on April 23.
Murphy's squad won just one game all last season, as he and assistant Ted Smith worked to establish themselves at the struggling program. The two previously coached at Chugiak, and Murphy said he and Smith want to create a softball power just down the road from the area's more established school.
"The goal when Ted and I took over was to have two teams and a self-sustaining program," he said.
The Wolves got about 10 more players out this season than last, and Murphy said things appear to be on the right track.
"We're slowly building it up," he said.
Helping make that building process easier is the fact that Eagle River's program is stocked with young talent. There are just two seniors on the team, and many of the squad's key players are underclassmen.
"We have three freshmen, and a lot of the rest of the core of the team is sophomores," he said.
Among the youngsters already making an impact is freshman Carrie Oyebi, who pitched in the team's season-opening 8-6 win over Dimond and also had an RBI. In that win, fellow freshman Lauren Weinburger went 2-for-3, while sophomore catcher Sarah Peyton had a 3-run double.
"That's what kind of got us on the move," Murphy said of Peyton's big hit.
Oyebi is expected to help with the pitching load, which last season was handled almost exclusively by Destinie Rainer.
"It's always nice to have two pitchers, since last year we only had one," Murphy said.
Rainer was on the rubber on April 23 when the Wolves picked up their second win with an 11-2 thrashing of Bartlett. Rainer gave up two runs in 4 2/3 innings of work, while Oyebi went 2-for-4 at the plate and Lexi Curtis added a pair of doubles.
"We're hitting the ball well," Murphy said.
Eagle River's undefeated run came to an end on April 25, when the Wolves had all kinds of trouble in a 15-0 loss to West.
"They had a pretty good pitcher out there," Murphy said.
Though he's not ready to call his team a championship contender just yet, Murphy said he believes the Wolves will surprise a lot of teams this season, and he's excited about the youth movement within the program.
"We're definitely looking forward to the next couple seasons," he said.
Contact Matt Tunseth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, April 28, 2011.