Mighty Maycee


Former Buff stars in two sports for Mt. Hood CC

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Madras' Maycee Abendschein helped lead the Mt. Hood Community College Saints to a third-place finish in the NWAACC championship tourmament in May. She was named a second-team All-South Region performer for the second consecutive year this season, as well.Mt. Hood Community College softball coach Meadow McWhorter had never seen Maycee Abendschein play before the Madras native went to Gresham for a tryout.

All it took was one swing in a batting cage, and McWhorter knew she had to put Abendschein in a Saints uniform.

With a full scholarship in hand, Abendschein embarked on an athletic career that wasn’t just run of the mill — it was one most athletes dream of having.

On the diamond, Abendschein helped the Saints to the No. 1 seed, and a third-place finish, in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges tournament in May. In her sophomore season, Abendschein batted .365 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 42 games, which helped the Saints to a 39-7 season record.

For her two-year career at the junior college, she batted .355, swatted 23 home runs and drove in 72 RBIs in 80 games.

She didn’t stop performing on the diamond, however. She played two years for the Mt. Hood volleyball team, helped the team win the NWAACC championship her freshman year and was still able to complete her academic courseload and achieve a 3.58 grade point average.

For Abendschein, it might have been destiny how she ended up attending the school, because she didn’t want to go there at first.

“I wanted to go to Pacific (University in Forest Grove),” she said. “But the tuition to go there was really high, but I still wanted to play at a competitive level.”

While playing for the Pacific Boxers, an NCAA Division III institution that plays in the powerful Northwest Conference, would have been a perfect fit for Abendschein, the Boxers’ loss was the Saints’ multimillion-dollar jackpot.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Former Madras High School standout athlete Maycee Abendschein completed her athletic career in both volleyball and softball at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, helping the Saints finish third in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges softball championship tournament in May. Abendschein was named to the All-South Region second team as an outfielder this season, hitting .365 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs this year.
In her freshman year, she was second in the NWAACC with 15 home runs, playing mainly pitcher and first base. She also played two years on the Saints' volleyball team as a right side hitter, and helped the Saints win the NWAACC championship her freshman year.“We wanted to get her for her offensive abilities,” said McWhorter, a former standout pitcher for the Saints. “Her swing is so natural, and she has the quickest hands I’ve ever seen.”

Abenschein burst on to the scene quickly with the Saints, earning a spot on the South Region’s second team all-star squad after belting 15 homers and driving in 40 RBIs in her freshman season, with a .345 batting average.

After Abendschein got over “being stubborn,” as she called it, she decided that taking the full scholarship offer from McWhorter was part of her plans, and hasn’t regretted anything about making that decision.

“Playing sports at Mt. Hood was like being part of a second family,” Abendschein said. “It was such a good environment to be around, and when I was offered the scholarship, I just couldn’t say no.”

Multitasking at its finest

Following her tryout for the softball team, Abendschein came home to find a message on her answering machine.

It was one of the Saints’ assistant softball coaches, Chelsie Speer. But the message in the voicemail had nothing to do with softball.

Speer was also the head volleyball coach, and she wanted Abendschein for her team, too.

“It was pretty crazy,” Abendschein said. “I really loved to play volleyball, and I didn’t even try out for the team or anything. She just called and said she wanted me on the team.”

As a right side hitter, or opposite in volleyball lingo, Abendschein helped the Saints roll to the NWAACC championship in 2011 and a 35-4 overall record.

“That year was the best year of volleyball I’ve ever been part of,” she said.

In her sophomore year, Mt. Hood didn’t fare as well. They still won the South Region, but finished “fourth or fifth” in the tournament, she said.

Abendschein said she doesn’t really remember where the Saints finished for sure, just that it wasn’t at the top.

“I was really upset after that,” she said. “It made me just want to go out and win the softball championship even more.”

Balancing the time between the two sports, even though they aren’t played in adjacent seasons — volleyball in the fall, and softball in the spring — wasn’t exactly the easiest thing for Abendschein.

McWhorter didn't exactly help matters either, when she told the team all about the power-hitting freshman that was playing volleyball, rather than doing fall workouts with the team.

“It was tough going into softball, because all the girls on the team had been together since the fall,” Abendschein said, “especially when I was a freshman. I didn’t know anybody right away, and all the girls knew who I was.”

Switching it up

Abendschein’s impact on the softball team was critical to the team’s success. In her freshman year, she led the team in home runs and RBIs, but the Saints finished with their heads barely above water at 21-20.

She was mainly playing first base and pitching, like she did at Madras High School, and was a second-team all-state performer in Class 4A her senior year. She dabbled in playing the outfield, but was never there full time.

But even with the big power numbers, she wasn’t pleased with her overall game, particularly defensively. She felt like she could help the team more if she traded the dirt under her cleats for grass — which meant a permanant move to the outfield.

“It was tough being split between all those positions my freshman year,” Abendschein said. “I wasn’t getting a lot of time at one spot, and it was frustrating. I worked hard and told Coach I wanted to play the outfield.”

Making a complete position switch is much easier said than done, but with Abendschein’s work ethic and athleticism, McWhorter said, she wasn’t worried.

“Maycee is a competitor, and that’s something that comes from within; you can’t coach it,” McWhorter said. “She always worked hard every day, and she’s the most aggressive outfielder we’ve had. I immediately felt comfortable with her there.”

Genetics also helped in Abendschein’s switch to patrolling the outfield. Her mother, Lindsy, was an all-state outfielder during her high school playing days.

“It’s kind of interesting how we ended up playing the same spot eventually,” Abendschein said. “For me, there wasn’t a lot of challenges because I already felt comfortable, even though I hadn’t played it a lot.”

Abendschein’s innate ability for the position, plus her reckless abandon and passion for not letting fly balls touch the sod, made her a human highlight reel, McWhorter said.

“She always made diving plays; it was pretty incredible, actually,” McWhorter said. “In a game against Clackamas, she laid out and caught a line drive to end the game, and it was like she did it every day.”

Abendschein lives for those types of plays, and she credited her volleyball skills for helping her with that aspect of her game.

“You’re always diving on the floor for balls, and doing those drills in volleyball really helped me judge the fly balls,” she said.

Life after the uniform

Now that Abendschein’s junior college eligibility is gone, she’s completely content with turning in her jersey.

That is, when she gets a coach’s polo shirt in return.

Abendschein plans to continue school at Mt. Hood, and will apply for admission into the physical therapy assistant program the school offers, which starts in the winter.

While she won’t be able to step between the lines, she’ll still be involved with both sports with a clipboard and whistle, rather than knee pads or a glove.

“I already miss playing like crazy,” she said, “but I will definitely want to help out with the volleyball team, and I’ll be around for softball, too.”

Perhaps one of Abendschein’s best qualities, McWhorter said, was her thirst for knowledge and willingness to learn anything.

“She was a sponge,” McWhorter said. “As a coach, I really appreciated how she always found ways to get better.”

Abendschein’s athletic career at Mt. Hood was filled with incredible accomplishments, but the 20-year-old sees the true payoff from having the opportunity to play sports past high school.

“The coaches here teach you life lessons,” she said. “It’s not just about sports. They teach you more than just softball or volleyball. This was where I started to grow up.”