Prep softball: Winlock focusing on positive energy under new coach


WINLOCK — Katlyn Dunlap has been meticulous in her first year as Winlock High School’s head softball coach.

From making sure the walk-up music is played on time to having everyone in the huddle between innings, Dunlap isn’t leaving any stone unturned. She feels her best asset is communicating.

Something she does nearly every play on the field.

“A lot of being able to put people where I need them,” Dunlap said. “They’re not going to know what I expect of them unless I communicate that. Lot of coaches are quieter on the line and I’m not. I will always speak up for them.”

For the first time this season, the Cardinals played a full seven inning game and even in an 11-3 loss to Toutle Lake in C2BL action on their home diamond on Thursday night, it was a positive step in the right direction.

The 11 runs allowed is the lowest since March 22 in a sweep over Chief Leschi. Winlock kept it competitive throughout before the final two innings went awry.

Four runs on four hits allowed the Fighting Ducks to break away and they added three more in the seventh to put the contest out of reach. They were held in check in the first five innings before combining for eight hits in the last two.

“A lot of the time, they get in their heads,” Dunlap said. “They’re definitely tired.”

Winlock (2-4, 0-2 C2BL) tied the game at two behind back-to-back RBI singles by Abby Miller and Cali Geehan. Geehan, who finished 3-for-3 on the day with a pair of stolen bases, roped an RBI triple in the fifth to shrink a 4-2 deficit in half.

Rohman and Miller each had multiple hits for the Cardinals. Rohman went the distance in the circle, striking out six. They had a handful of stellar defensive plays, including a pair of putouts on outfield throws.

“We work a lot in practice on different scenarios,” Dunlap said.

One of the challenges Dunlap is facing is turning around the notion of Winlock having a negative attitude. At times over the last two years, she mentioned trash talk and not looking on the bright side, even in setbacks.

That has been a shift since she took over.

“As soon as you step onto these fields with me and the girls, we’re a team and we work together,” Dunlap said. “I set that as an example of being positive at all times. It is always that reinforcement that you correct it, but they’re improving.”

Little goals that the Cardinals set every game will be a season-long trend. Dunlap mentioned she wanted to see a competitive game between two teams in similar boats, young and inexperienced in the grand scheme of the C2BL.

Up until the sixth inning, the lead for Toutle Lake was never more than two runs.

Dunlap is hopeful this season can be a building block for the next handful of seasons. She wants to establish a culture at Winlock and harp on things her group can control.

“All our concern is to get bat on ball,” Dunlap said. “We always come in thinking we’re going to win or that we’re going to compete to the best of our abilities.”