Six Yelm High School Fastpitch Athletes Sign to College

By Jacob Dimond / jake@yelmonline.com
Posted 5/17/22

Following a 16-4 record in the regular season, the Lady Tornados celebrated six seniors on May 11 who signed to continue their fastpitch careers after high school.

The six seniors each …

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Six Yelm High School Fastpitch Athletes Sign to College

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Following a 16-4 record in the regular season, the Lady Tornados celebrated six seniors on May 11 who signed to continue their fastpitch careers after high school.

The six seniors each contributed in strong ways as they have helped lead the team to a strong position entering the postseason.

A trio of Tornados will continue their college careers together, as catcher Kendall Lawson, pitcher Vivian Watts and outfielder Elena Castanon all signed to play at Pierce College in Lakewood. Karis Sanders, an outfielder and first baseman, signed to play at Olympic College in Bremerton, while second baseman Molly Embrey signed to play at Whitworth University in Spokane. Ashlyn Aven, who plays third base, signed on to play at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.

Castanon, who batted .310, had an on-base percentage of .304 and 12 RBIs, had a strong senior year which ultimately led her to signing at Pierce.

“I had a COVID break and recruiting kinda stopped for me at that point. Eventually, I started reaching out to different coaches and got in contact with a coach from Pierce,” Castanon said.

The senior outfielder also felt that it’s important to play close to her family.

“Pierce ended up being the best option for me,” she said. “The school is close to home so my family can easily watch me play. The coach liked me and what he saw in my game, and it led me to signing.”

Aven, who sports a batting average of .407 and an on-base percentage of .455, has been productive at the plate for the Tornados this year. She also collected four home runs and 28 RBIs during the season. Entering college, Aven hopes to replicate her production when she heads to Linfield College in the fall.

“My dad and I have been watching softball for a really long time and he influenced me to play college softball,” Aven said.



Aven was unsure of where she wanted to continue her fastpitch career until she took a look at some of the numbers that Linfield’s fastpitch program presented.

“I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go at first, but Linfield definitely turned out to be a good match for me,” Aven said. “They’re currently number six in the nation, and I feel like their program and school will be a good fit for me.”

Embrey, who bats left-handed, wrapped up the regular season with a batting average of .413, a .481 on-base percentage and 13 RBIs, but perhaps her most promising skillset is on the bases. The senior went 8 for 8 during the regular season on steal attempts and scored 20 runs.

The ties between Whitworth and Yelm High School continue to grow stronger as Embrey heads to Spokane. Former Yelm pitcher Drea Schwaier committed to the program in 2018 and has displayed strong performances on the mound since that time.

“When I first started playing softball, I felt like I needed something to play for. Drea signed with Whitworth, and my dad is really close to Andy Wolf (Drea’s stepdad) and he became a recruiter for Whitworth,” Embrey said. “Eventually I started talking with Coach Castle and visited a few times. I feel like they’re my people, they make me feel so welcomed. I can’t wait.”

Lawson, the senior catcher, batted a whopping .500 and obtained a massive .556 on-base percentage. She also drove in 19 RBIs.

Sanders sported a .250 batting average, and had a strong .400 on-base percentage. She scored nine runs and had a perfect fielding percentage of 1.000.

Watts, the two-way star, posted a .320 batting average and a .422 on-base percentage. On the mound, she posted an imposing 1.46 earned run average in South Sound Conference games. She also struckout 68 batters over 57.1 innings pitched.

Up next for the Tornados will be a playoff matchup on Thursday, May 19 at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey. They will face Auburn Riverside at noon.

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