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Lady Greyhounds score four all-state softball selections


Gaston's third straight league championship leads to Class 2A/1A all-state recognition

Following another successful spring, Gaston’s softball team was well-represented on the Class 2A/1A all-state team with the inclusion of four players.

Tayla Kuyl and Haylie Davis were first team all-state picks, Brielle Matson earned a second-team nod, and Cassie Van Dyke received honorable mention recognition.

“It is very exciting, and they all deserved it, so I am very proud of them,” said Ciera Jones, who guided the Lady Greyhounds to a 22-6 overall record in her first season at Gaston.

In addition to helping post the sparkling overall mark, the all-state quartet led the squad to a 14-1 record and third consecutive Northwest League title, plus a 16-game winning streak that carried the Hounds to the quarterfinals of the Class 2A/1A state playoffs.

In late May, after knocking off Riddle 11-1 in five innings to post the program’s first playoff win since the 2009 season, Gaston fell 11-4 to eventual state runner-up Yoncalla in the quarterfinals.

Kuyl, the Greyhounds’ second baseman, blasted opposing pitchers for a .468 batting average, and all of her 33 hits were singles. She was also effective at drawing walks, making base on balls 18 times. She also stole 17 bases and struck out just five times.

“She was getting on base, which is why I had her in my leadoff position,” Jones said. “She, I believe, had our highest batting average, but her on-base percentage ... was just incredible, and she was a very heads-up base runner.

“I think she really came out of her shell this year and really stepped up to the plate.”

Davis made the all-state first team as a designated hitter/utility player. She posted a .422 batting average and recorded 38 hits, including five doubles and four triples. She also drew 12 walks and stole 12 bases.

The team’s primary pitcher in 2012, Davis pitched more sparingly this season after first sharing duties with Matson and then being hit by illness midway through the spring. She went 3-3 in the circle, striking out 62 batters, and played a little bit of everything — right field, third base, even taking to the pitcher’s circle with little notice when needed.

“Haylie was a player that no matter what I needed, I could call on her and she, without any hesitation, would perform for me,” Jones said.

For Matson, the all-state designation capped a comeback from 2012, when she broke her ankle in Gaston’s first game and missed the season. This time around, she went a dominating 18-3, fanning 167 and walking just 24. She was also a weapon at the plate for the Greyhounds, batting .444 with 30 hits. She also stole five bases and struck out only seven times.

“Her speed was something that a lot of girls in 2A don’t get to see, and she did have movement and she had a lot of control,” Jones noted. “It was a huge difference from the first game we played in the season — where she walked the first four or five batters, which really hurt us — to the very end, where I think she may have been averaging a walk a game, if that.”

Van Dyke showed a great deal of mettle just to play on the diamond this spring. Because Van Dyke had torn her ACL during basketball season, Jones started her off at third base, not wanting to stress the injured knee. But eventually, she moved her back behind the plate. Despite the injury, Van Dyke posted a .419 batting average with 36 hits, including six for extra bases. She also walked six times and stole four bases.

“She was by far one of the most coachable girls I’ve ever come across,” Jones said. “At the end of the season, I knew our team would be stronger with her behind the plate because she didn’t hesitate to pick off players or to call plays, call pitches. She was just very confident.”

Of the four all-state players, Van Dyke, Matson and Kuyl were all seniors for the 2013 season, while Davis was a sophomore. In all, the Greyhounds counted six seniors on their roster, though Davis should be a nice building block in 2014.

Said Jones: “I think she has a lot of potential, and we started to uncover it this year.”