The Lions replace 8 seniors but the team shows early promise

The West Linn softball team is turning over virtually its entire roster this year after graduating a talented senior class of eight players last spring.

But coach Jamie LeVeque has been encouraged by what he has seen from his young squad so far and expects his team to be competitive in a league that is short on experience this year.

West Linn graduated a strong pitching tandem last year in Caroline MacAusland and Aubrey Pesicka but has another solid pair ready to fill in this spring.

McKenzie Baker has been solid in the early going and has shown good control while Sarah Von Ahn should also see plenty of innings this year as well.

“I'm pleased with our pitching. McKenzie does a nice job getting the ball over the plate. We didn't help her out much in our first game,” LeVeque said.

JV pitcher Lauren Bell has also shown promise and may get a call up to varsity action this season.

In the line-up, West Linn returns speedster Briana Barzola. Barzola will lead off and be a defensive anchor in centerfield.

Leah Beyer is also back, currently hitting second and playing shortstop for the Lions.

In the team's first game, a 9-2 loss to Lincoln, Barzola had two hits and Beyer had a shot to the fence to pace the team's offense.

“We've kind of come to expect Leah to get the big hit for us,” LeVeque said.

Catching for West Linn this year is McKenzie Hartdigan. Katie Walls will fill in at first base and Hanna Sicilliani will man second base.

Hallie Olmstead will fill in at third base while freshman Carly Savoy and Maddie Higgins will play the corner outfield positions.

“I'm not expecting us to go out there and make the spectacular play but we have to make the routine plays and get used to playing in front of a crowd,” LeVeque said.

The Lions are quickly getting their feet wet this year and adjusting to playing at the varsity level but LeVeque has been surprised at how seasoned his group appears already.

“We have to get physically bigger and stronger but mentally, the girls are executing the way they're supposed to and are in the right place on defense. We just need to instill some confidence in them,” LeVeque said.

The Lions will look to progress through their preseason schedule before taking on a wide open league slate.

“I don't think the league is quite as strong this year because there's no dominant pitcher returning but Lakeridge, Canby and Clackamas all have good kids coming back,” LeVeque said.

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