It’s been 520 days since Kalea Allen was hired as the Ketchikan High School head softball coach — and after a little more than 74 weeks, Allen will finally get to make her head coaching debut.
“We’ve been a doing a lot of offseason, it seems like — a year and a half of it,” she said following Wednesday’s practice. “So we’re ready to get out on the field, and see what we’re made of.”
Of course, time away from playing games was all out of her control.
After being hired as the head coach on Nov. 20, 2019 — a move up from her assistant coaching position with the Lady Kings — the novel coronavirus pandemic shut down the 2020 softball season.
And even Mother Nature stalled her head coaching debut last week in Sitka.
Sitka High School’s tournament, which was scheduled for April 9-10, was canceled after a snowstorm grounded the Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain high school teams, keeping them home.
Sitka pulled the plug on the tournament while the Lady Kings were flying to the hosting city.
Best rest assured, softball will be played this weekend — under the sunshine and blue skies of the friendly confines at Dudley Field.
The Lady Kings host the Thunder Mountain Lady Falcons on Friday and Saturday.
The JV squads will go head-to-head at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The varsity teams will square off at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday.
Saturday’s action will start at 9 a.m.
“It’ll be good to get (the kids) out there,” Allen said. “We’re at that point, now — and I know other coaches can agree — that we’ve practiced everything individually that we can. And now we just need to see how these kids react in game mode, and who’s ready to step it up when we need them to.”
Because it’s been a couple years away from the softball field, the Lady Kings have been taking the extra time to find the right spots for each girl on roster. The Lady Kings have a larger roster than normal — 26 players — but it’s all about fitting the “puzzle pieces” together.
“Without that season last year, (we don’t know) where those (younger players) fit,” Allen said. “So that was the whole goal, after coming back (from the Sitka trip), since we didn’t have those games to see where those puzzle pieces fit — using practices to test out every possible opportunity.
“We did some scrimmages at the end of last week — Thursday, Friday — just so we could get into that games back-to-back mode,” she continued.
And those scrimmages went well.
“We didn’t have the score the first day,” Allen said of the scrimmage on April 15. “We were playing, and teaching as we went. … But the second day, we did keep score, and it was nice to see some competition going. Putting on the pressure a little bit more, so we can get in the habit of playing to compete every single play. Just practice how you play.”
The Lady Kings have five seniors and 10 juniors on roster. Five sophomores and six freshmen complete the 2021 team.
“We’re thankful that our seniors — just about every single one of them — saw the varsity field in 2019,” Allen said. “So (they) have that experience of going to state, and know what that’s like.”
That 2019 team, which was helped along by Dyllan Borer, Nyah Edenshaw, Charlie King, Kendall Kamm and Lyla Seludo — who are all seniors this year — won the Region V championship over Thunder Mountain.
The Thunder Mountain Lady Falcons have a new head coach, as well, this season, as Julie Herman has taken over the program.
“I know her through playing (at Juneau-Douglas) high school,” Allen said. “She was actually an assistant coach when I played JD volleyball. So that’s kind of exciting.”
All of the head coaches in Southeast this season are women.
“It’s kind of nice to have someone who’s played the sport, help lead the sport,” Allen said.
Junior varsity teams for the Lady Kings and Lady Falcons will play at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday. The varsity teams are lined up to play at noon.
The varsity teams will go head-to-head just one time on Saturday, after Friday’s twin bill. Kayhi has its prom Saturday night.
Both varsity matchups on Friday will be considered conference games. Saturday afternoon will be non-conference.