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Lakers U14 team heads to softball nationals

LO team finished seventh in state tourney, then takes third at regionals
by: submitted photo, Madelyn Dunn, the pitcher on Lake Oswego’s U14 softball team, helped her squad to a third-place finish in a regional tournament last week. That effort qualified the Lakers for the national tournament, which will begin today (Thursday) in Salem.

It looks like the Lake Oswego High School softball program will be in good hands for a while to come. That's because the Lakers' U14 summer softball team is filled with some of the best talent ever to come through the system.

At least that's according to the team's coach, Don Hunt, who also coaches the high school team.

It would be hard to argue with Hunt after the Lakers recently finished third in a Northwest regional tournament. Hunt felt his team was good enough to win that tourney. Either way, the team still qualified for a trip to the national tournament, which begins today (Thursday) in Salem.

'I think we're going to have a real shot (at nationals),' Hunt said.

'Our future at LO is awesome,' the coach added. 'We've got depth at every position.'

At the state tournament, the Lakers beat a squad that Hunt considered the best U14 team in the state. But Lake Oswego finished seventh in that tournament, partly because the team's top pitcher, Madelyn Dunn, suffered an ankle injury in the second game and missed the rest of the tourney.

Dunn, who is back now, is good enough that Hunt expects her to play on Lake Oswego's U18 team this fall. In addition to being an excellent pitcher, Dunn also is one of the Lakers' best hitters.

Besides Dunn, Hunt said he has several other players who could be good enough to play for the older team.

That group includes Molly Pyle, a catcher who has thrown 80 percent of the opponents' would-be base stealers. In addition, Pyle is a .390 hitter and she leads the team in RBIs and stolen bases.

Then there's Katie Phelps, an excellent fielding shortstop, who is the team's lead-off hitter with a .350 average. In addition, first baseman Katelyn Galos is the team's top hitter with a .450 average. She's second on the team in RBIs and has a penchant for the long ball. 'I think she'll hit some out of our (high school) park,' Hunt said.

The defense has plenty of stars as well, including center fielder Sammy Saldivar, who is nicknamed 'Radar' because she tracks down everything in the outfield. Left fielder Erin Haagenson and right fielder Emily Wong have been sensational, too. The speedy Wong is the team's top bunter and often reaches base even when other teams knows she's bunting.

Linzy Shallman, the team's youngest player, has a strong arm and is a virtual vacuum at third base. Then there's second baseman Maddy Marquard, who might be the team's best all-around player.

The team's assistant coach calls Marquard 'Web Gem' because of all of the spectacular plays she makes in the field. Her range seems to include everything on the right side of the diamond, including a fair amount of the outfield, Hunt said.

Unfortunately for Hunt and LOHS, it appears that Marquard will attend Jesuit High School, which has been a tradition for the other members in her family.

All in all, it's easy to see why Hunt is excited about his team's chances in Salem.

'We just played really good in the regionals,' Hunt said. 'And we should have played for the championship.'

In that tournament, the Lakers lost a close semifinal game to the Redmond Range. The Range then went on to win the title game 11-1.