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Tualatin has a solid group of players returning from last year's state semifinal team

TIMES PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tualatin High School senior outfielder Zoe Olivera (right) was a Class 6A first-team all-state selection last year.TUALATIN — The Tualatin High School softball team is ready to go.

There seems to be no doubt about that.

With plenty of talent, plenty of depth, plenty of experience and whole lot of strong leadership, big things could be in store for the Timberwolves as they get ready to jump into 2018 Three Rivers League action.

"We have high hopes to be in the top half of the league," Tualatin assistant coach Bill Wilson said. "But only time will tell during preseason."

The Wolves return a strong core of players from last year's squad that won the Three Rivers League title at 14-0, while going 24-4 on the season, reaching the semifinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs, where it lost a 4-3 heart-breaker on the road to eventual state champion North Medford.

Among those returnees is a strong group of seniors, including pitcher Megan Woodward, outfielder Zoe Olivera, third baseman Taylor Alton, utility player Kayla Laird and catcher Ella Hillier.

"Our seniors will lead the team this year," Wilson said. "I think all players will bring something to the table throughout the year."

Woodward leads a strong Tualatin pitching staff, which goes five deep. Last year, Woodward was a first-team All-Three Rivers League pick and a second-team Class 6A all-state selection.

Sophomore left-hander Tia Ridings, a second-team all-league pick last year, also returns in the circle. She should also see time in the outfield.

TIMES PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tualatin High School senior Ella Hillier moves from the outfield, where she was an all-league player last year, to catcher.Hillier, a first-team all-league pick in the outfield last year, moves to catcher this year.

Olivera, a first-team all-league and first-team all-state selection from a year ago. Returns in center field for the Wolves.

Tualatin looks to be strong in the infield. Junior power hitter Emily Johansen, a first-team all-league pick last year, is back at first base. Sophomore Bella Valdes, a second-team all-league pick at utility last year, is back at shortstop. Alton, in her fourth season on the Tualatin varsity, returns at third base. She was an honorable mention all-league pick last year. Junior Andrea Gomez, also an honorable mention all-league pick last year, will be at second base.

Laird, who shined as a pinch runner last year, will see time in the outfield, as should junior returnee Lily Marshall. Freshman Taylor Corcoran will also see action in the outfield. Marshall and Corcoran could both also see time pitching, as well.

Other newcomers to the Tualatin varsity include freshman pitcher/outfielder Sydney Wagner and sophomore outfielder Savannah Braun.

"We only lost two seniors last year so the team is strong and well-bonded," Wilson said. "Our pitching is strong and our hitting will do well. Defense needs some work but that's what practice is for."

Tualatin, on Monday, upped its early-season record to 8-0 by scoring a 7-2 non-league win at Oregon City.

Corcoran went 3 for 4 at the plate in the victory, with a double and two RBIs. Alton went 2 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI. Johansen went 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI. Gomez scored a pair of runs and Olivera had a double.

Woodward picked up the pitching win. She gave up two runs on four hits, while striking out 10 and walking one in seven innings of work.

The Wolves will be back in action on Wednesday, when they travel to David Douglas for a non-league game starting at 4:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Tualatin will host Westview in a non-league game starting at 10 a.m., and then travel to Beaverton for a 1 p.m. game. Both of those contests are rescheduled games from earlier in the season.

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