Three outs reminded Mick Johnson why he enjoyed coaching the Wilsonville softball team this year.
It was May 23 in Eugene, the Wildcats were facing ninth-seeded Marist in the Class 5A play-in round May 23 in Eugene and a trip to the state playoffs was up for grabs.
All of a sudden, Marist loaded the bases with no outs.
We didnt yield a run because of our defense and effort, Johnson said. We played a tough game.
Wilsonville ended up losing 2-0 and missed the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, but Johnson praised his players for their determination against Marist as well as in arguably the deepest league in all of 5A.
In their first year under Johnson, the Wildcats finished with a 6-21 overall record and went 4-10 in the Northwest Oregon Conference to take sixth place as Putnam and St. Helens shared the title.
Wilsonville gave up an average of 6.22 runs per game but lost eight games by three runs or fewer, sneaking into the play-in round at No. 24 in part because of its schedule strength.
I dont think we were satisfied with the results of the season, but I was definitely impressed with our desire and teamwork, said Johnson, who replaced Dan Kane at the helm. We lost a lot of close games, and we were playing in the strongest 5A league in the state. ... I was very pleased with this years group.
Six of Johnsons players received all-NWOC honors, five of whom are eligible to return next season.
Second-team all-league senior pitcher Sarah Harms was recognized for the fourth time. She earned honorable mention as a freshman, garnered second-team honors as a sophomore and made the first team as a junior, when she also received all-state honorable mention.
Among the highlights of Harms season was a complete-game performance on senior day against Parkrose in which she gave up seven hits, struck out four batters and didnt give up a walk.
She worked through some injuries this year, but she did a great job, Johnson said of Harms, who will continue her career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She was our senior power in the circle.
Wildcats sophomore Skyler Matthews also made the second team after a standout season in center field. Johnson called her one of the most promising young defensive outfielders hes seen in his 30 years as a softball coach.
She has unlimited potential, he said. Shes a gamer in every sense.
Four players sophomore pitcher Lauren Bell, freshman catcher Katie Enbody, junior infielder Hannah Lopez and junior infielder Stephanie Stamnes received all-league honorable mention.
Bell led Wilsonville in wins this season, one of which came in a complete-game shutout of Philomath during preseason tournament play. She also had strong outings against Liberty and St. Helens.
Shell be heard from down the road, Johnson said. She also had a few injuries but worked her way through them.
Enbody showed encouraging signs behind the plate, filling the vacancy left by graduated catcher Rebecca Ollison. She had two hits with a double and an RBI in the Wildcats 10-2 win over the Broncos at home May 7.
Katie filled the role admirably, Johnson said. Shes still learning the game, but shes a great kid and was a leader behind the plate. Shell be even better next year.
Lopez served as Wilsonvilles leadoff hitter and demonstrated good instincts at third base. Among her best offensive performances was a 3-for-4, three-run outing against Parkrose.
I was hoping she would be recognized a little bit higher, Johnson said. She has a real strong softball IQ.
Stamnes played mostly at first base but proved her versatility, filling in sporadically at third base, left field and even in the pitching circle. She and Lopez figure to lead the program in 2015.
Were very young, and were going to be competitive next year, Johnson said. I like the team and I think good things will happen down the road. Im excited about next years group. ... Hopefully, this is just a building stone.
Liberty infielder Kelly Meeuwsen was named the NWOC player of the year, St. Helens junior Mariah Mulcahy was selected as the leagues pitcher of the year and Putnams Tiffany Strnad was honored as coach of the year.
The NWOC produced four 5A quarterfinalists in St. Helens, Sandy, Putnam and Liberty. Putnam defeated St. Helens in the state semifinals to reach the title game against Pendleton.
AT A GLANCE
WILSONVILLE SOFTBALL 2014
Record: 6-21 (4-10 in the Northwest Oregon Conference)
Playoffs: None; lost 2-0 to Eugene-Marist in the Class 5A play-in round
Key facts: In first season under coach Mick Johnson, swept Milwaukie and Parkrose in league play and lost eight games by three runs or fewer
Best win: 10-2 over Parkrose at home May 7
Toughest loss: 1-0 to St. Helens on the road May 12
All-league second team: senior pitcher Sarah Harms, sophomore outfielder Skyler Matthews
Honorable mention: sophomore pitcher Lauren Bell, freshman catcher Katie Enbody, junior infielder Hannah Lopez, junior infielder Stephanie Stamnes