Finishing April strong
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
The opening month of the softball season started off a bit slow for the reigning conference champions. The team split the first three series of April, entering the crossover tournament at 3–3. They ended up sweeping that tournament, going 4–0 against some of the best competition the league could throw at them.
Head coach Michelle Peters says she responded to her team’s slow start by rallying them around their losses. “We have a very different team from last season. I have a very talented group and with talent sometimes the athletes take things for granted or assume things will work the way they want. They need to understand you can’t hope for success because you believe you are talented. Each one of them needs each other’s support, and need to make the extra effort to be better individually and as a team. Our losses have been monumental to our successful outcomes this year so far. Our girls have had to learn how to play as a team, and they all can tell you that means win as a team and lose as a team.” The team has responded well to those lessons. With every loss, the team bounces back with a big win.
The team is currently on an eight-game win streak and second place in their conference, only behind the strongly performing Bellevue. Much of this has to be credited to efforts at bat. The team has been huge when it comes to batting, and has not been shut out this season so far. They have also eclipsed the 10-run mark a total of three times. Coach Peters was not shy about her enthusiasm regarding her batting core. “By far our hitting has been our biggest factor this year. These girls can hit very well with tons of high level experience for most of them, and almost all the way through the lineup they can hit for power, easily changing the outcome of any game with a swing of the bat.” Leading the way for her team is Taylor Woodward, batting with an incredible average of .519, which is good enough to be third best in the NWAC league. Their batting may be on point, but that does not mean their pitching has been ignored.
The team’s pitching has been stellar at points, and lacking at others. But for the most part, the team has gotten good outings from their pitching team. “We have certainly had our ups and downs on the mound, but every game the pitchers have been getting better. I expect them to continue to grow and improve going forward, leading the way to Oregon for championships.” The team is led by Carolyn Thoveson with an ERA of 2.54, and Keeley Ainge with an ERA of 2.80, who sit as the conference’s fourth and seventh best ERA leaders.
They are not without their competition, however. The team plays in the ultra-competitive NWAC conference, which Peters is no stranger to. “I truly believe in the NWAC the top 10 are always very tough, with some incredibly talented athletes. I have always believed from day one with the program, that any of the top 10 could be in the final circle raising the trophy. We are currently seeded 5th, and to me it doesn’t matter. What matters is Oregon. Who gets hot, who shows up, and who wants it more, and with some luck, of course.”
However, she also believes that her team could be the one to win it all. “I always believe that we can take it all the way. With this team this year, if we get hot, watch out. Our bats can cause some serious damage. There’s no doubt in my mind we can complete our goal.”
As successful as Peters has been at the helm of the team, she credits a lot of her success to her coaching staff. “I have been lucky to have an amazing staff that has remained the same for three years now since I have been with Douglas. I have three assistant coaches, Jennifer McKellar, Rob Warburton, and Steve Mcbeth. I have to say they truly balance me out and keep me in check. This program would not have had such success without them. Every single game I ask them for their advice on players, lineups, ideas, etc. They run practices when I can’t make it, they keep things organized and moving and truly know what I want, look for, and expect from my student athletes, and all three could lead this team to success as well if they were in charge.” Together, the staff will be looking for a big showing in May, as the team marches towards playoffs. They finish April with a conference record of 7–3, and two games behind Bellevue.