Photos by Gerardo Bolong
Faith Oiph lines up her pitch for Tyee.

Tyee plays at district softball

By Gerardo Bolong

SPANAWAY - On Sat., May 24, at the Sprinker Recreation Center, the Tyee Totem fastpitch team lost a 5-inning, 10-run mercy rule, 16-0, West Central/Southwest Washington Class 2A softball game to White River to end its postseason play. Carolina Salazar's hit that went deep to the right of short stop was the only hit for Tyee, but the real story is how this band of Totems worked its way into this position.

"On our first day of practice, we had only two girls there," said co-coach Benn Webb who shares duties with Joshua Nguyen. "We are first time softball coaches. I've been a basketball coach and Joshua has baseball experience. They (Tyee officials) offered us the job and we started from the low turnout. Six of our players are first year softball players. We start two freshmen, three seniors and four juniors. Our most experienced player (senior) Faith Oiph is an all star player in the field, but pitches because she is the only one that knows how to pitch. She could be called an assistant coach because she works with the other players so much. She's not frustrated and is always positive. Being here is a complete surprise. We have dedicated girls. It's pretty crazy (that we got here)."

Tyee had some huge blowout losses in the regular season, especially against the 3A teams before finishing 6-8 league, tie for best 2A record and 8-10 overall. According to Webb, the 11-0 sub-district win against Renton was huge after two lopsided losses in the tournament and was critical for positive feeling as well as qualification into bi-district.
The complete utility player Oiph felt good about her responsibilities in her senior year.

"I'm the most experienced player," she said. "During practices, I worked with the players on basics. They learned fast and were open to criticism. I felt good about helping."

Others with less experience shared their thoughts, as well.
"It was a really positive experience," said freshman Alisha Byley. "I played some softball, but I was always looking for a good experience. I'm really looking forward to next year. Our coaches were supportive and Faith helped with the fundamentals. Even though I'm a freshman, this is my greatest year in softball."

A highlight for junior Jill Abab was beating Renton 7-5 in the first game.

We didn't have nine players, but we still won."

Growing socially truly motivated junior Carolina Salazar.
"It was most enjoyable to be part of a team, because I never play sports," she emphasized. "I met students that I didn' even know went to my school and grew with them."

Players for Tyee include Denise Mendiola, Katelyn Fufoga, Faith Oiph, Jessica Kapeli, Nicole Judd, Carolina Salazar, Alisha Byley, Isabel Garcia, Ivone Hernandez and Natalie Navartto.

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