No need to give Sequim High School’s new fastpitch coach directions — she’s been here before.
Joel Lewis, a 1997 Sequim High alum and former player, takes over the Wolves’ program this spring after two years as an assistant coach with the Peninsula College softball program.
“I wanted to continue coaching,” Lewis said, “and this was a great opportunity for me.”
Lewis grew up in Port Angeles and spent her final two high school years at Sequim High, where she played third base for the Wolves.
She went on to play softball at Palomar College in San Diego, Calif., and then finished her education at San Diego State University. In 2004, she returned to the area with her husband to be closer to family.
Lewis was with the Pirates for two seasons — in 2009 and 2010 — until the program was eliminated last May.
Sequim High fastpitch coach Mel Hendrickson, who coached the Wolves for eight seasons, stepped down from the coaching position in June.
Lewis will have some familiar company. Joining her on staff is assistant Marquita Espinoza, a 2008 Sequim High School graduate and all-conference catcher at Peninsula College who set Pirate records for home runs in a single season and career.
Special assistant Elvin Sofie also is joining the team.
“The three of us worked together the last two years,” Lewis said. “We know each other (and have) a commitment to the sport, too.”
Easing the coaching transition is the fact that Sequim loses just three starters from last season’s 20-4 squad that shared co-Olympic League champion honors with North Mason.
“I know some of their kids; I’ve seen some of their games,” Sofie said. “We’ve got a good team coming back.”
Returning is top starting pitcher Demire Briones and the heart of the batting order — 3-4-5 hitters Lea Hopson, Madison Zbaraschuk and Briones — plus several other key starters.
Lewis said she plans to start open gym practices this week, although she noted that by rule she may not offer any instruction until two weeks before the season begins.
Michael McFarlen joins the Wolves as junior varsity coach.
Hendrickson coached the Wolves to a 125-58 record, seven consecutive district playoff appearances and four state berths, finishing as high as fifth at state in 2007.
The Wolves’ fastpitch squad hosts team turnout on Feb. 28. The season begins March 16.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.