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Originally published Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 5:09 PM

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Five things to watch in high-school softball this season

1. Can Woodinville pull off rare 4A repeat? How hard is it to win back-to-back state championships in 4A softball? Since the state switched...

Seattle Times staff reporter

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1. Can Woodinville pull off rare 4A repeat?

How hard is it to win back-to-back state championships in 4A softball?

Since the state switched to fastpitch in 1992, only two teams have accomplished the feat — Columbia River in 1996-1997 and Kelso in 2009-2010.

The Woodinville Falcons fell short of their bid to repeat after winning the title in 2005. The following season, they lost to Capital in the quarterfinals, then bounced back to finish third.

They'll take another shot this spring after running the table in 2012, and are the early favorites thanks in large part to senior pitcher Madi Schreyer, Washington's reigning Gatorade Player of the Year after going 21-0 last season with a 0.28 ERA. She is one of six returning starters.

Dani Weir takes over as head coach this season after two years as an assistant coach. Weir was a key junior on that 2005 title team, then missed nearly all of the following season with a knee injury.

The Falcons are ranked in the top 10 in two national polls and Weir said they are trying to embrace the role as favorites.

"There's added pressure, but we're dealing with it in a fun way and trying to turn pressure into pleasure," she said.

2. Will Ladines return in time to key Arlington's run?

A broken finger won't necessarily mean broken dreams for Arlington this season.

Senior Ronnie Ladines, a pitcher/outfielder who has signed with Kent State, is unavailable until probably mid- to late April after breaking the index finger on her pitching hand late in the basketball season.

But the Eagles haven't missed a beat with senior Hayley Fields in the circle. Fields, the No. 2 pitcher last year, is averaging better than 12 strikeouts per game.

Dan Eng has returned as head coach. He was at the helm when these seniors were freshmen, then Lonnie Hicks took over for two seasons.

After starting 17-2 last year, the Eagles dropped their final two games and failed to qualify for state.

3. Bainbridge braces for another trophy run

With all but three starters back from last year's team, including Metro MVP Katie Raben, Bainbridge should be among the top 3A contenders again this season.

The Spartans won the state title in 2009, then finish second in 2010 and '11. They lost just three games last season, but two of those came at state and they failed to earn a trophy.

4. Everett looks to rebuild after runner-up finish

The Everett Seagulls made the most of their senior-laden lineup last season, going 24-2 and placing second at the 3A state tournament. Now they're in a rebuilding mode with only three returning varsity players, led by senior Demaree Trull, and are carrying six freshmen.

"We are definitely young, but we have talent," coach Meagan Semore said.

Semore (then Loesche,) is a 2001 Everett grad who caught for the Seagulls and is the interim coach this season with Casey Chaffee on maternity leave.

5. Jefferson can't rest on last year's laurels

There's plenty of reason for optimism at Jefferson, which returns seven starters from the team that finished a best-ever fourth place at state last spring.

But coach Chad Fahnlander is hoping to see more fire from his players.

"They kind of came in with a lack of focus," he said. "Hopefully we'll get it all together by May and have a good run at state."

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