Stockfleth says he believes his Falcons can give Gladstone a run for the TVC softball title

The La Salle Falcons have a lot of youth on their 2014 softball roster. But that doesn't mean the Falcons won't be competitive.

“No question. Gladstone is the favorite to win league [this year],” said La Salle coach Walt Stockfleth. “But I'm not counting us out. Even though we're young and learning our roles, I think we have a chance to dethrone them this year.”

La Salle will be one of the youngest Class 4A teams in the state in 2014, with only one senior and five freshmen on its varsity roster.

But the Falcons have some veterans whom Stockfleth believes can lead his team to success.

He's got senior Sydney Chvilicek, a four-year-starter who is playing catcher and serving as field general this year. She started at first base and was a back-up catcher last season.

Junior Makenzie Cook returns to start at shortstop for the third year in a row.

Sophomore Nicole Schreiber, who started in left field as a freshman, has moved into the infield to start at first base, a position she plays in ASA ball.

Junior Shannon Stockfleth, who started in right field a year ago, is starting at shortstop.

And the Falcons have a veteran at pitcher in junior Loryn Williams, who has been a starting pitcher since she was a freshman.

Williams will also see some action at first base this year, when freshman Emily Goodman takes to the mound. When that happens, Schreiber will move to left field.

Missed from this year's lineup is sophomore talent Averi Johnson, who garnered first-team all-conference recognition for her play in centerfield as a freshman. Johnson has been sidelined for the season by a knee injury.

Stockfleth says that freshman Rylee Maben has earned the starting nod at third base.

Other top contenders for playing time in the outfield include junior Betsy Rivera, sophomore Stevie Carlos and freshmen twins Jaden and Jasmine Gloden.

“We're still a work in progress,” said Stockfleth. “But if we can keep our bats going like they have in our last five games, I like our chances. Our pitching has been solid, and our defense is coming together.”

After losing to Corbett (3-1) and to Stayton (2-0) in their season openers, the Falcons have been quite competitive. They topped Central 7-5 on March 21. And last week, they won three of four games in a tournament in Bend and brought home a trophy.

In Bend, six unearned runs cost La Salle in a 10-4 loss to Class 6A Tigard. But the Falcons bounced back with wins over Philomath (6-2), Brookings (10-5) and Wilson (10-9).

Stockfleth singled out Cook, Goodman, Schreiber and Williams for their hitting in Bend. They combined to go 11-for-15 at the plate in their tournament final with Wilson, he said.

Stockfleth says he is happy about the turnout for softball at La Salle this spring. He says he has 10 freshmen out, and enough players out to field both varsity and jayvee teams for the first time since 2011.

The Falcons (4-3) get their final tuneup for the league season this Friday, when they play host to Cascade.

La Salle plays Madras on the road next Monday (April 7) in its Tri-Valley Conference opener.

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