Season in Review: Crook County softball unable to hold hot start
The Crook County High School softball team did not have the season they had hoped for.
Early in the year, the team set a goal to reach the state tournament. Unfortunately, the Cowgirls came up short of that mark, winding up fifth in the Intermountain Conference.
"Thank you to the parents, grandparents and community for all their support this season," head coach Jeremy Puckett said. "Also, I would like to thank the Cowgirl coaching staff for their hard work and commitment to the team."
Though they did not meet their goal this season, the Cowgirls did have several highlights along the way. After a slow start, the Cowgirls won seven consecutive games during the middle of the season — including starting the IMC with a 5-0 record.
The team struggled the remainder of the year, though, falling to 5-10 in conference play and 10-14 overall. However, that does not tell the full story.
After winning the first two games of a three game series versus Hood River Valley, the Cowgirls lost a one-run game to the Eagles on the road. The team also lost a one-run game to The Dalles, who ended up qualifying for the playoffs. In addition, the Cowgirls gave the eventual state champion Pendleton Buckaroos all they could handle in a 5-1 defeat at Crook County late in the year.
The Cowgirls lose just two players to graduation, left fielder Mikinley Puckett — who was named to the all-league second team — and second baseman Alli Vaughan. The remainder of the team returns, including pitchers Jaycee Villastrigo, Tylee Cossitt and Raelynn Weaver, as well as catcher Danner Hemphill, shortstop Katelynn Weaver and outfielders Chloe McKenzie, Mickie Wright and Kya Mozingo. In addition, Kaylyn Fildes saw significant playing time at both first and third base.
When they were not pitching, Cossitt, Weaver and Villastrigo also played infield positions. Not only does the team return significant varsity experience, this year's JV roster was able to score a lot of runs. Several of those players could step up and help the varsity team offensively next year.
Cossitt was named to the IMC all-league first team as a third baseman, while Katelynn Weaver was a second team infielder and McKenzie was an honorable mention outfielder.
Adding to the optimism for next year is the fact that Crook County drops down from Class 5A to 4A next season. The Cowgirls defeated Corbett and Madras this past season, and both of those teams reached the Class 4A postseason. They finished second and third, respectively, in the Tri-Valley Conference that Crook County will join next season. Corbett —which will be dropping to 3A next year —won a play-in game, but lost in the first round of the state playoffs. Meanwhile, Madras lost a play-in game, while the league champion Estacada Rangers won a first round playoff game before falling in the quarterfinals to eventual state champion Cascade.
In addition, several Cowgirls have already signed on to play summer league softball with different all-star teams from throughout the state. All signs point to the possibility that the team may be slowly regaining the prowess it had in 2016 when the Cowgirls finished second to Henley in Class 4A state championship.
Next year could be a fun one to watch.
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