Softball: Mick Johnson molding 'spirited' squad in first season at Wilsonville
Former Clackamas coach replaces Dan Kane at helm of Wildcats program
Taking the helm of a program that lost six all-league seniors to graduation, new Wilsonville softball coach Mick Johnson knew his roster would lack extensive varsity experience.
But he is convinced it wont lack determination.
As evidenced by sophomore pitcher Lauren Bells complete-game, no-walk shutout of Philomath during tournament play in Bend, the Wildcats have plenty of quickly developing talent.
We are young, but were going to be spirited, Johnson said. With our youth, we will make mistakes, but we will bounce back quickly.
Johnson takes great pride in helping and watching prep athletes improve their skills.
The Portland-Lincoln alumnus fills the vacancy left by Dan Kane, who compiled a 72-131 overall record and a 42-102 mark in league play in eight years at Wilsonville.
Kane stepped down after one of the best seasons in program history, the Wildcats going 18-9, outscoring their opponents 153-89 and reaching the state playoffs for the second year in a row.
Whether this years group can improve quickly enough to extend the programs postseason streak remains to be seen, but Johnson is optimistic.
We should be in the hunt for a league championship, he said. Well respect everybody we play, but were not going to fear anybody. Wins and losses will fall in place, but the kids will compete to the best of their abilities. Well be heard from.
Johnson, a former three-sport athlete who played football at Southern Oregon, brings to Wilsonville (2-4) a depth of coaching experience in softball.
He spent eight years in a variety of roles with the Clackamas High School program, including head coach in 2001. That year, the Cavaliers went 22-4 overall, reached the state playoffs and earned a share of the Three Rivers League title with a 14-2 record.
Johnson, whose daughters both played at Clackamas and continued their athletic careers at Linfield College, also boasts several years of coaching experience in the club ranks.
His assistant coach at Wilsonville, Gladstone product Missy Oleson, arrives after serving as a junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant at her alma mater.
Johnson, a longtime distribution manager for Fred Meyer, left his post at Clackamas due to conflicts with his work schedule.
But it wasnt long before he returned to softball to help his daughter, Kelly, who was serving as Newbergs varsity coach. He spent much of his time with the non-varsity players.
Once I got back into it, I enjoyed working with the student-athletes, he said. Its something that I enjoy and look forward to continuing for a long period of time ... Im delighted with the Wilsonville community and the high caliber of the young student-athletes.
Leading this years crop of players is senior pitcher Sarah Harms, who will continue her softball career next year in New York at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The returning first-team all-league honoree will also play a key role on offense, as evidenced by her two home runs during the Bend tournament last month. She and Bell will throw most of the Wildcats pitches this season.
Stephanie Stamnes, meanwhile, returns for her junior campaign after earning first-team honors in the Northwest Oregon Conference as a utility player last year. Shell likely stick to first base this season, although she could also see time in the outfield.
Junior infielder Hannah Lopez bolsters the lineup as Wilsonvilles leadoff hitter. Shell spend most of her time at either third base or shortstop.
Shes a very gifted athlete with a high softball IQ and a glove and bat to match, Johnson said.
Other key contributors include sophomore shortstop Kylee Allen, sophomore centerfielder Skyler Matthews and freshman catcher Katie Enbody, who Johnson said has unlimited potential.
The roster also features four utility players in senior ChiAnn Morris, sophomores Morgan Miller and Makenzie Atwood and freshman Lauren Isaak. Morris joined the softball program after a standout season in girls basketball in which she received second-team all-NWOC recognition.
Johnson said he believes Wilsonville has the ability to contend for a playoff berth but added that he wont judge this years team on its game results alone.
From the first practice to the end of the season, have we improved? he said. Have we enjoyed ourselves? Have we represented the Wilsonville community?