SOFTBALL: Expectations are sky-high as the Valiants start their first season in the WVL
BEAVERTON - There are no sure things in high school sports, and Valley Catholic softball coach Roni Illias knows that as well as anyone.
Now she's just got to convince her players.
The Valiants, state quarterfinalists at the old Class 3A level last year, are back with a vengeance for their first West Valley League season and their hopes of league and state titles could not be greater.
'We hope to finish as one of the top teams, but being in a new league, you just don't know for sure,' said Illias, who led Valley to the 3A state crown in 2001.
This year's Valiants are young, but talented, led by senior third baseman Emily Keagbine, the reigning Class 3A Player of the Year, and three others who also won first-team honors in the old Tr-Valley League, junior pitcher Sami Picken, junior catcher Tara Baglai and senior center fielder Greta Mannen.
Keagbine is 'just a great player,' Illias said, while Picken 'is looking real strong (and) she always works very hard.'
The rest of the infield will include junior Emily Becker at first, junior Valerie Barry at second, and talented freshman Maggie Hastreiter at shortstop ('She's quick, fast and agile and she has a great arm,' Illias said).
Sophomore Johanna Crisman and Jill Suratt will play in left field, Mannen is in center, and in right, it will be freshmen Carlee Hoshowski and Carly Verboort, with freshman Emily Bishop in reserve.
Illias said she expects both Willamina and Dayton to provide strong tests in West Valley League competition, but adds 'We won't overlook anyone.'