Coach Tara Malaske, who played softball for Pawhuska High School just a few years ago, said the team she prepared to put on the field starting Monday of this week is “really young.”


Malaske has two seniors, one of whom is injured and out of action until perhaps sometime in the middle of September. The other senior is Pawhuska’s starting pitcher, Kalee Kennedy.


The Lady Huskies got off to a 0-1 start Monday, with a hard-fought 8-7 home loss to Caney Valley. Pawhuska led 2-0 at the end of an inning, but didn’t hold onto the lead.


Malaske voiced pride in her team’s energetic play.


“We’ve gotta focus on winning each inning and not being content with a few runs,” she said. “They played hard, though, so I’m not at all disappointed in their efforts.”


This is Malaske’s second year to lead the Lady Huskies, and the 2018 campaign is getting off to a much better start. The school district didn’t bring her aboard to coach until Aug. 28 last year, well after the season should have started. PHS missed some regular season games and the first tournament in 2017, and then had what Malaske characterized overall as “a losing season.”


The bright spot in that losing season was that the Lady Huskies won their district tournament matchup against Hominy. That triumph helped build confidence for Pawhuska, Malaske said.


As she talked about Pawhuska’s prospects a few hours before the first game of the season Monday afternoon, Malaske said she would have some starters who are freshmen. In particular, she noted that her starting catcher and first baseman would be freshmen.


Additionally, she anticipated having two sophomores — a starting outfielder and the starting second baseman — who haven’t played organized softball before.


All that newness isn’t a problem, Malaske said.


“I’m glad to have so many young girls because it makes it a lot easier to shape them into what you need for your team,” she said, “and it allows them to grow as a team.”