The Oregon City Pioneers are young, but theyve got a host of veterans in their lineup

Oregon City High School’s softball team has a lot of youth on its varsity roster. But that doesn’t mean the Pioneers won’t be competitive in Three Rivers League softball this spring.

Oregon City coach Dave Adelhart says he believes that his charges have as good a shot as anyone of winning a league championship in a league that he expects to be competitive from top to bottom.

“We’re still young, but not really young,” said Adelhardt, who is carrying only three seniors on his varsity roster. “We’ve got really solid players. They’re young, but they do have varsity experience and they have a lot of potential. If we play as a team, I think we can do really well.”

Adelhardt says that compared to a year ago, the team is a lot stronger defensively.

“Our errors are way down compared to this point in the season last year,” he said. “We’re a lot more mature on the field.”

The Pioneers have more than held their own in preseason, winning four of their first six preseason games and competing in five of them.

Among their early season victories are a 9-1 win over Sherwood, a 15-1 rout of AG West out of Vancouver, Washington; a 19-1 rout of South Albany, and a 10-1 shellacking of Milwaukie. And they gave the Aloha Warriors a run for their money in a 4-2 loss.

They met their match in a March 25 game with Pendleton in the Spring Break Challenge at Hood View Softball Complex, losing 12-4.

“[Pendleton is] a good, hard hitting team,” said Adelhardt. “Their pitching was nothing special, but they hit the ball hard and jacked a couple out on us.”

Adelhardt said of the loss to Aloha, “It was an intense game. What we didn’t do is get base runners in. We left the bases loaded in the last three innings.

Lesson learned. After a short talk about not leaving runners on the bases, the Pioneers crushed South Albany 19-1.

The Pioneers have had their own long-ball hitters. Junior Morgan Bookout crushed a grand-slam home run in the shellacking of AG West, and senior McKenzie Anderson had a round-tripper in the South Albany game.

The Pioneers return eight players who saw starting experience on varsity last year, including pitchers Devin Hally and Briana Spencer.

Hally, who garnered first-team all-league recognition in the circle last year as a sophomore, is starting at first base when she isn’t pitching.

Bookout returns to third base, where she was also a first-team all-leaguer as a sophomore.

Anderson returns to start at second base and junior Kaitlynn Donaca returns at shortstop.

Junior Taylor Katzmarek returns to centerfield. Junior Ashley Dugan moves from the outfield to take charge behind the plate, as the Pioneers’ starting catcher.

Donaca, Dugan and Katzmarek all received honorable mention in the TRL all-star balloting a year ago.

Katie Harlon, a sophomore up from the jayvee, has been starting in left field; seniors Katelyn Weatherly and Abby Hughes have been splitting time in right field.

Sophomore Miranda Carver and freshman Jadwyn Parrish are backups at first base.

“Our pitching has been really good, but we have yet to put a complete game together — pitching, hitting and defense...,” said Adelhardt. “When we do, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

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