Seasoned lineup is Wildcats weapon
Westview softball boasts six players back for fourth year
Barring injury or upset, it appears to be Westview's year in Class 4A prep softball.
'It's a loaded group,' says coach Ronda McKenzie, who has 11 returning players, including six seniors who have played on varsity since they were freshmen.
'We have really high goals for this year Ñ to go all the way,' star pitcher Amy Walters says. 'We have a very talented team, but you can lose a game any given day. We learned that lesson last year.'
The Wildcats entered the 4A semifinals last year with one loss, and rival Southridge, the No. 4 team from the Metro League, beat them 3-1. Southridge, with star shortstop Ashley Charters, and Beaverton will be Westview's pursuers in the mighty Metro.
McKenzie calls Charters the best player in the state. 'Ashley's amazing,' Walters says. 'I have a lot of respect for Ashley. She hit a home run off me in that (semifinal) game. She hit a good pitch. She's still one of my best friends.'
Westview, 8-0 after a 6-0 win Wednesday over South Salem, got eight of nine first-place votes in this week's state poll, administered by Central Catholic coach Cristina 'Spud' Acosta. Beaverton got the other first-place vote. The rankings from 1-10: Westview, Tualatin, North Medford, South Medford, South Salem, Centennial, Barlow, Southridge, Beaverton and Redmond. David Douglas and Central Catholic also received votes.
Five Westview players have signed with NCAA Division I teams: Walters with Villanova; center fielder Nikki Reser, Oregon State; shortstop Kelly Odell, Northwestern; catcher Emily Nichols, Iowa; and first baseman Laura Kor, Buffalo.
A sixth four-year player, Abbie Fisher, will also probably sign to play Division I, McKenzie says.
Kor and Nichols are four-year starters.
McKenzie says prep teams rarely feature five seniors in the infield. Pitching, defense and experience sure help in those 1-0 and 2-1 games.
'We have great pitching, a great catcher and a very experienced infield,' she says. 'We also have a strong hitting team.'
Several players were members of the Oregon Sun Supply under-16 national championship team two years ago. Others have played for the Silver Bullets, which McKenzie designates as 'our feeder team.'
Westview recently went 5-0 on a trip to Phoenix. The Wildcats open Metro play Friday at Century. They play at Beaverton on April 21 and host Southridge on April 23.
Charters and Walters were named co-Class 4A players of the year last season.
Walters doesn't quite fit the mold of top-level pitchers Ñshe's not tall (5-1) and doesn't power-pitch. 'I just try to hit my spots,' she says, 'because hitters can catch up to fastballs.'
Says McKenzie, in her 10th year at Westview: 'Amy throws the ball hard, and she has a good rise ball and change-up. She's really a competitor. Not an intimidating stature kid, but she has a very good work ethic.'
Westview went to the state playoffs the past three seasons, losing in the semis in 2003, the first round in 2002 and the quarterfinals in 2001.