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Lady Lions think this could be the year for a run at NWOC title, state playoffs

Young Lady Lions team has experienced and talented players


by: JOHN BREWINGTON - Players on the St. Helens High Lady Lions softball team will include: (front, from left) Ashley Giesbers, Michelle Sass, Kayla Finch, Hailee Fischer, (back) Taylor Leal, Alyssa Giesbers, Courtney Anderson, Sue Sass, Kali Moore, Mariah Mulcahy, Karli Edwards, and Stevie Strawn.On paper, the St. Helens Lady Lions look young and normally that might indicate a building year. But the team is experienced, most of the starters were on the second-place team of a year ago, and they have quality pitching and blazing speed.

Coach Jeff Edwards, entering his eighth year at the helm, figures St. Helens to be one of the favorites in the Northwest Oregon Conference this year. Their team goal is to win the league title. Edwards was Coach of the Year last season in the conference.

Pitching is much of the game in softball and the Lady Lions’ sophomore Mariah Mulcahy was Pitcher of the Year. She also dazzled at the plate—notably hitting for the cycle in her first varsity game.

The other half of the battery, then freshman Michelle Sass, was named first team all-league.

The only senior on the team, Sue Sass, was second-team all-league at short stop.

That alone is a good base to build on, but the Lions have back three others with starting varsity experience: Stevie Strawn, junior, outfield/infield, first team all-league outfielder; Alyssa Giesbers, sophomore, honorable mention second base; and Karli Edwards, junior, out last season, but first team all-league as a freshman.

Karli, the coach’s daughter, tore her ACL in basketball and sat out last season. She was the lead-off batter and leading hitter as a freshman.

Also added to the mix will be Courtney Henderson, a sophomore swing player from the jayvees last season.

Rounding out the 12 on the varsity will be: Ashley Giesbers, freshman, outfielder; Hailee Fischer, sophomore, outfielder; Kali Moore, junior, infielder; Taylor Leal, freshman, infielder/catcher; Kayla Finch, freshman outfielder.

“We lost some kids, but we have some very capable replacements,” Edwards said. “It’s really a young group, but we bring a lot of ASA experience. We’re really quick. I’d put our speed up against the track team or any other softball team.”

He added that 11 of the 12 players were on ASA teams last summer, many of them on “A” division teams.

“They’ve played some ball and know the game,” Edwards added. “They probably have more experience than any team since I’ve been here.”

The 5A Lady Lions are going to hone their skills in the preseason against some very talented, and mostly 6A teams. Some of those teams were in the 6A top 10 last season.

They open with McNary visiting on March 11, followed by games with Canby, Hood River Valley, Tigard, Newberg, North Eugene, Mazama, Marist, Glencoe and Forest Grove. North Eugene was ranked second last season. Glencoe has a Division 1-bound pitcher that throws 68 mph.

“It’s tough,” Edwards said. “I think we can beat anyone on a given day. That’s what I tell the kids every night. These are established programs and (the schools) are bigger than us. We do have speed and we can get creative.”

Edwards said that thus far they spent three days in tryouts, and a day going over the rules. The team was indoors on Friday. They will have seven days before their first game.

“We do progress quickly and everyone is in the same boat,” the coach added.

Edwards said he views Sandy as their top opponent in a tough conference.

“I think Sandy, outside of us, is the team to beat. They didn’t lose a lot and brought back a bunch of seniors. They’re very solid. Liberty will be tough, they are very athletic. I’m concerned about Wilsonville. They have a lot of seniors. Putnam lost two pitchers but their coach has always won the league. She’s still the coach and really good. Our goal is to win league but it won’t be easy. It may be the toughest league in the state. We want to win it and get a good seed in the playoffs.”

Edwards is getting coaching help from Miranda Little and Dave Sass.

St. Helens High Softball Schedule

(Home games in caps)

March 11 McNARY

March 14 Canby

March 15 HOOD RIVER VALLEY

March 18 Tigard

March 21 NEWBERG

March 25 Medford Tournament

March 26 Medford Tournament

April 1 GLENCOE

April 3 FOREST GROVE

April 5 S herwood

April 9 LIBERTY

April 12 Sandy

April 16 WILSONVILLE

April 17 MILWAUKIE

April 19 Rex Putnam

April 23 PARKROSE

April 24 SHERWOOD

April 26 Liberty

April 30 SANDY

May 1 Wilsonville

May 3 Milwaukie

May 7 REX PUTNAM

May 10 Parkrose