The squad blasts past the competition in February, start up conference season
By Peter Melling /// Sports Editor
The softball Pioneers have returned to take on the 2016 season, amid the arrival of seven first-year players and an incredibly tough Northwest Conference. As of March 1, the team is 5-7 and 0-4 in conference play. The Pios look to build upon their progress from last season, and turn the program into a contender for years to come.
One of Pios’ biggest strengths has been the depth of their roster.
“We have depth in our pitching circle and in all positions, which we really haven’t had in the past. We swing the bats very well and have a ‘good mixture in our lineup of speed and power. So, we’re pretty excited to see where the season takes us,” said Head Coach Shawna Cyrus.
The team has translated this depth into convincing wins and stats early in the season, including two 23-run games against Walla Walla, a team batting average of .357 and 20 stolen bases.
The maturation of the returners has also played a large role in the team’s early success. “Paige Salavea ’18 has been a tremendous improvement from last season. As a sophomore, she has come back with a different attitude and work ethic, and it’s really showing on the field. She’s currently hitting in our lead off spot, and leads our team in nearly every offensive category through our first 8 games,” said Coach Cyrus. Salavea currently boasts a .495 batting average, a .489 on-base percentage, and a .625 slugging percentage. She also has three stolen bases and eight runs batted in.
Another one of the Pios’ facets is their influx of young talent. “We have 7 first-years that have joined us this year, and it has made an immediate impact on our team. They have brought depth to nearly every position, and added pitching which is what we so desperately needed. Not only does their physical talent help us, but their personalities and their passion have really been a great combination to our group of returners,” said Coach Cyrus.
Among this group of rookies are Zoe Juarez ’19 (.471 BA/.526 OBP/.529 SLG) and Emily Drevdahl ‘19 (two home runs, ten RBI’s and three SB’s). As for the pitching circle, Drevdahl and and Kady Bruce ’19 have put up 4.11 and 4.10 ERA’s with 2.74 and 3.07 K/G, respectively.
The team’s cohesion and depth looks to be a formidable strength, especially going into the tough NWC. “The NWC in softball is always tough, and it seems like it gets tougher every year. Two teams, from our conference alone, have the won the National Championship in the last 5 years (Pacific Lutheran in 2012 and Linfield in 2011), so each game is a battle. There really aren’t any teams that you can take lightly. Our goal is to reach the NWC Tournament for the 1st time in program history. That means we will need to be in the top 4 of our 8 teams,” said Coach Cyrus. The squad has an excellent grouping of veterans and rookies this year, and even if they do not achieve their goals this season, they will have built the foundation for future successes.
The Softball Pios will take the field again this weekend, in a three-game road series against Pacific Lutheran (9-5, 1-3 in conference).