Theyve got only three seniors on their varsity roster
The Oregon City Pioneers have a youthful lineup in softball this spring, with only three seniors and two juniors on their 12-player varsity roster.
And the Pioneers have graduated veteran pitcher Jocelyn Park, along with all-league infielders Rachel Roberts and Melissa Taylor.
But that doesnt mean the Pioneers wont be competitive in the Three Rivers League.
The Pioneers had five talented freshmen on last years varsity roster. Those freshmen have matured, and Oregon City coach Dave Adelhart says hes got two new varsity pitchers he believes can get the job done in sophomore Devin Hally and freshman Bri Spencer.
This group is young, but theyre good athletes, Adelhart said. They have high energy and they want to excel. They work hard in practice, and I think, as they develop, theyll get to that point where they are a good softball team, and maybe even a great softball team.
The Pioneers return seven players who saw a considerable amount of playing time last year seniors Stefanie Snow (catcher) and Raina Drake (first base); junior McKenzie Anderson (second base); and sophomores Kaitlynn Donaca (shortstop), Morgan Bookout (third base), Taylor Katzmarek (outfield) and Ashley Dugan (outfield).
Drake and Snow have had plenty of experience at the varsity level. Both are third-year starters. Snow was a first-team all-league selection last year, while Drake garnered honorable mention in the league all-star balloting.
The youngsters also got their share of recognition a year ago. Bookout was named to the TRLs second all-star team as an outfielder; Katzmarek received honorable mention for her play in the outfield as a freshman.
Rounding out this years varsity roster are senior Savana Bowman (outfield), junior Katelyn Weatherly (outfield/third base), sophomore Devin Hally (infield) and freshman Cierra Walker (outfield).
The Pioneers have held their own in early preseason, rallying with three runs in the fifth inning to beat McMinnville 4-1, and dropping an extra-inning barnburner to Beaverton, 4-3.
The Pioneers were up 3-1 heading into the seventh inning of the Beaverton game but couldnt seal the deal.
Taylor had a lead-off triple in the seventh and Stefanie had a lead-off double in the eighth, but we couldnt score them, Adelhart said.
The Pioneers return to the diamond Thursday, when they play host to Southridge. They vie in a tournament at Hood View Softball Complex in Happy Valley next Monday and Tuesday, playing Franklin Monday at 10 a.m., Pendleton Monday at noon, Cleveland Monday at 4 p.m., Putnam Tuesday at 10 a.m., and Hermiston Tuesday at noon.
League play begins on Monday, April 8, when the Pioneers play West Linn on the road.
Adelhart said he expects the TRL title chase to be a dogfight.
Everyone but Lakeridge has lost their pitchers [to graduation], he said. I think the league will be very balanced. Last year we went into our last league game with a chance to finish second. I think the league will be just as competitive this year.
Clackamas, which rallied around veteran pitcher Sam Gutwig, finished atop the TRL last year, with a 13-2 record. West Linn (10-5), Oregon City (9-6), Canby (9-6) placed second through fourth, followed by Lakeridge (3-12) and Lake Oswego (1-14).