Aloha head coach Michelle Riley may have said it best when asked to describe her 2022 Warriors softball team.
"Talented, but really young."
Riley's roster consists of just three seniors, and beyond that boasts a junior, two sophomores and an astounding nine freshmen. That's not to say they don't have talent, but to get the most of the talent will take internal guidance—something the fourth-year head coach said they're lacking.
"To be honest, we lack leadership," Riley said. "All of my players are very quiet and that is something that we are working on as a whole team. Since we are so young, we all need to be leaders."
The Warriors are 2-6 to start the year, with there first win coming at McDaniel and their second this past Thursday, March 31, against Century of Hillsboro. But Riley said they continue to improve and they're doing so by way of the type of competition that forces you to do so, including a four-game road trip to Southern Oregon over Spring Break.
"Playing teams like North Medford and Grants Pass are tough but I think it is a great experience for them," the coach said. "Teams from Southern Oregon are very good and many end up in the playoffs. Our team continues to make fewer mistakes each game."
Riley said the team will primarily lean on senior pitcher Morgan Mosley, junior pitcher and centerfielder Erica Eidson, and infielders Taylor Vandebrake and Emily Foust for leadership on the field, but said all nine of the freshman have and will continue to see action, with "each playing an important role." She added that the team gets along great and that it's that type of chemistry combined with their character that could make them a team to reckon with down the road.
"This group of girls are good kids both on and off the field," she said. "I don't have to worry about them academically or behaviorally. They have great team chemistry."
And they've needed it to overcome some rough early defeats, including three losses by 10 runs or more. But Riley said she hasn't seen any negative effect from the losses—which has been impressive.
"They have gotten beat pretty bad and they continue to fight and be resilient," the coach said. "They work hard, they are dedicated, and they all love the game."
And where will that take them? Yet to be determined in the immediate future, but in the long-term it will be about the little steps, that lead to a big gain.
"Take each day, game, inning, and at-bat as an experience/moment," Riley said. "Stay in the moment, gain the experience, learn from it, and then do better next time."
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