Crimson Tide look to avenge last year's extra-inning loss in the Class 6A softball state championship game
In many ways, the 2014 Glencoe softball team looks very similar to last years squad.
But in others, the Crimson Tide seem very different.
The Tide are coming off of a superlative 2013 campaign in which they blitzed to a third straight Pacific Conference title and advanced all the way to Class 6A championship final before falling 2-1 in extra innings to North Medford.
Most of the players on that team return, including reigning state player of the year Courtney Clayton, now back for her senior season as Glencoes dynamic, ball-belting shortstop. Some will be playing in new positions, however, as the team tries to replace all-everything pitcher Katie Sutherland-Finch and all-star centerfielder Morgan Brown, both of whom graduated last year and are now playing softball in college.
So all in all, coach Jacy Jukkala is pleased with where her team is for this point in the season.
Theyre going good, Jukkala said. Weve got a good group of returning seniors that definitely are some really good leaders. Its been kind of fun to watch them step up into that role this year.
One of those seniors, Emilee Eastman, slides into the circle as the new face of Tide pitching after having played third base last season. She will offer opponents a different look than the hard-throwing Sutherland-Finch, but she should also be effective.
Shes pitched since she started, like at 10U, Jukkala said. Shes not Katie Finch, she doesnt throw 55 miles per hour, but she does a good job keeping the ball down and hitting her spots. And shes very consistent. She doesnt throw a ton of balls. She doesnt walk a ton of kids, so were hoping that we can get some ground balls out of her and our defense will help out.
Of course, with so many returners, Eastman has a fabulous defense around her, led by Clayton, to help her out.
Dynamic on both sides of the ball, Clayton hit an impressive .523 last year and put up 56 hits, 40 RBIs and 34 runs scored.
Another member of Glencoes excellent senior class, Kylie Surratt, will be moving to Eastmans spot at third after spending some time at catcher and in the outfield last season.
Budding sophomore stars Kamryn Apling (all-conference second team in 2013) and Macy Besuyen (first team) also are back after holding down the fort at catcher and second base last season, respectively. Apling should be back behind the plate, while Jukkala plans to move Besuyen to her more natural position in the outfield. She will take over Browns spot and brings a lot of speed to the position.
Shes so stinking fast, Jukkala said.
Other returners include senior left fielder Hannah Rossman, sophomore Emily Stonier, senior first baseman Maria Dendinger (second team all-league) another kind of solid rock we can count on too, Jukkala said and junior Lauren Messmer, who is fighting for time in the outfield after earning all-league honorable mention as a designated hitter/utility player last spring.
With Besuyen shifting to the outfield, Jukkala looks to a freshman to play second base for the second year in a row. This time the spot goes to Jessica Eice. Some of the other new players include Taylor Matsuzaki, who is battling Messmer for time in right field.
Glencoe kicked off the season by turning back city rival Liberty 8-3 on Tuesday and traveling to Westview on Wednesday. The team rounds out the week by hosting Northwest Oregon Conference power St. Helens before heading to North Medford over spring break for a tournament.
Were looking forward to it, looking forward to seeing what they do, Jukkala said about the season. Hoping to make the playoffs, and well see what happens from there.