MARYSVILLE — For Haley Fritz, Jordyn Nickolson and Casey Zachry, fast-pitch softball isn’t just a sport or recreational activity — it’s a family. The three girls are seniors at Marysville-Pilchuck High School and have been playing softball together since they were in elementary school. Now they are moving on to college, but won’t be soon forgetting the times they had as Tomahawks.
“I’ve been playing for about 10 or 12 years, since I was 6,” said Fritz, who played Little League in Marysville until she was 10, SnoCoExpress from until she was 14 and select team Lake Breeze until she was 18. “I’ve grown up here my whole life.”
Like Fritz, Nickolson has been playing since she was 6 years old.
“I started T-ball when I was 6,” she said. “I used to play on Alderwood Little League, but when we moved up here I played in Marysville Little League and then on the All-Stars, SnoCoExpress and Snohomish Shock.”
When she first moved to Marysville, Nickolson played with Fritz and Zachry, and so began their growing friendship and love of softball.
“When I moved up here they were my first teammates,” said Nickolson. “Ever since I moved to Marysville, I’ve been playing with them. It’s been so much fun.”
Zachry, who also played for Marysville Little League and SnoCoExpress, as well as the select team, sees her friendship with Fritz and Nickolson as being more like a family.
“It was actually a really good experience, and really helpful my sophomore year when we went to state,” said Zachry. “The fact that we were playing together since we were little, and we had not only known each other on the softball field but also off the field, made it more of a family than a team.”
In 2011, the Tomahawks took second place at state and all three girls consider it their best year.
“Playing for M-P has been so cool, especially my sophomore year,” said Fritz. “My older sister and her team all played together with us that year. That was my favorite because everyone we played with for years was on the team.”
“Sophomore year was my favorite year. We went to state and ended up getting second place,” she said. “It was so amazing, there’s not even words for it. We knew, after that year, we probably wouldn’t get that far again. All the five seniors that we’d played with for so long were graduating. We knew that was the year we were going to win if we had a chance. We were little sophomores on varsity, and you rarely have teams that ever go that far.”
Zachry, whose father Aaron Zachry is the Tomahawks’ head coach, also has fond memories of her sophomore season at M-P. “Not only did we go to state, we were also academic state champions that year,” she said. “The fact that we were not only good at the sport, but also in school — that was kind of cool.”
Being both athletically and academically skilled will be useful for the trio, as they graduate and move on to college in the fall.
“I am going to Central Washington University and I think I’m going to try to walk onto their team,” said Fritz. “I plan to study secondary education because I want to teach math.”
Zachry has a similar goal to Fritz, who mentioned coming back home after college to share her skills with a younger generation by helping to coach softball at M-P.
“I’m also going to Central Washington University to get my degree in teaching,” said Zachry. “I hope to come back to M-P and teach biology and coach with my dad. Haley is walking on, but I don’t want to. She is doing the same thing as me, going to Central for teaching to come back and teach math at M-P, and maybe coach with my dad as well.”
Nickolson also mentioned returning to visit Coach Zachry after college.
“He has taught me so much growing up,” said Nickolson, who will play volleyball and softball at Olympic College in Bremerton next year. “He’s put up with me since I was a rotten little kid, all the way up to now, and I’m going to miss him a lot. I will definitely come back and see him.”
Nickolson’s career goals echo those of Fritz and Zachry, but she is keeping her options open.
“I either want to be a kindergarten teacher or do something with sports medicine,” she said.
Despite the excitement and uncertainty involved with going off to college, this trio of Tomahawks will always have each other to lean on.
“The senior season was really sad because we all knew it was going to end eventually,” said Nickolson. “I’m glad how it ended. I made so many new friends. I’m never going to forget them. It’s great to finish out my senior year with the other girls I played with growing up.”