Spartans hope to enjoy more wins under new coach Stacy Hutchison
Optimism is running high within the Hillsboro softball program.
The Spartans have no doubt suffered through some lean years of late going a combined 12-66 over the past three seasons but under an energetic first-year coach, they are hoping to make some positive strides in 2014.
We have a lot of returners. We only graduated one senior last year, so Ive got a really excited, motivated team, said Spartans head coach Stacey Hutchinson, who first took over the program midway through last season on an interim basis.
Kind of that momentum they built off last year, they really came in excited. Theres just a sense of, We cant wait to get out there, and a sense of belief that its a different program now. So theres a lot of excitement.
Hutchinson certainly brings a winning mentality to Hilhi softball. She won a state championship while she was a player at Skyview High School in Vancouver, Wash., and she also played for high-powered Ithaca College (N.Y.).
Her Spartans return a solid pitching staff in Emalyn Weislogel and Kelly Royster this spring. Weislogel earned second team all-league pitching honors last year as a sophomore, while Royster was a second team pick as a junior infielder. She swings a big bat and also will see time in the pitchers circle.
Ive seen really big growth from both of them, so I think that instills some confidence in the rest of the team as well, to know that they have somebody strong on the mound no matter who it is, Hutchinson said.
Another senior, Tiff Demezas, is the Spartans third returning all-leaguer. She earned honorable mention honors as a third baseman last spring.
Hutchinson also hopes her three freshmen can be impact players. They are Skyler Bowden (catcher), Camille Rickas (infield/outfield) and Skylin Reiner (shortstop).
I expect them to challenge the other kids to move up and hopefully earn a starting role, Hutchinson said.
Other players to watch include center fielder Ashley Loberger and outfielder Cheyanne Seeley, who is nursing a shoulder injury. First baseman Lisa Ellis also returns and is a team captain, along with Weislogel, and a key team motivator.
The Spartans got their season off to a great start on Tuesday, when they blasted Lake Oswego 17-7. Hutchinson is definitely hoping to pick up some victories this season, though she is most focused on the process for her team, rather than the result.
Before we think about wins, were just thinking about playing together as a team and getting our fundamentals down and really doing the everyday stuff that we practice, and taking what we practice and translating that to the game, Hutchinson said.
And the wins will come with that.