The VC softball team thinks better things are ahead for 2013

BEAVERTON — The 2012 season was not what Valley Catholic had hoped it would be.

VC, entering the year under the leadership of first-year head coach Emily Keagbine — herself a Valiant state champion, and later, a national champion with the Linfield women’s team — played just one game in the first month of the rain-ravaged season, went 3-9 in league and missed the state playoffs for the first time in seven years.

After that, the Valiants are ready to play again and believe they have what it takes to be successful.

“Our league is pretty strong again this year, but I believe that we have a chance to be competitive,” Keagbine said. “With a few adjustments and more experience this year, we have the ability to be in the middle of the pack.”

This year’s VC team features one returning all-leaguer — senior shortstop Lauren Shoemaker (she won a place on the Lewis & Clark League honorable mention team) — and will also look to senior third baseman Meaghan Connelly, senior outfielder Emily Gabourel and senior catcher Taylor Kinion for leadership.

“Our team is led by (Connelly, Gabourel and Kinion),” Keagbine said. “All three were on the team last year and know what we are trying to do this year. They have the experience and drive to lead the team.”

VC also expects big contributions this year from pitchers Molly Danielson (a freshman) and sophomore Erin McLoughlin, and sophomore outfielder Sarah Connelly. The rest of the VC varsity lineup this year includes first baseman Madeline Henningsen, third baseman Sayaka Yamauchi and outfielder Bridgette Henningsen.

“The key this year is to keep a great attitude and stay focused,” Keagbine said. “We have a lot of the tools it takes to be successful this year and just need to keep our mental state right in order to show that. The girls have already started improving at a rapid pace and I only see that continuing to happen.”

In the 2013 Lewis & Clark League race, Keagbine names Rainier and Corbett as the likely favorites, and hopes to see her team win the league’s third automatic berth to state.

“Rainier is definitely the strongest team in the conference with Corbett close behind,” she said. “This year, our league has three berths to state and the race for that third berth could be a battle.”

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