Head Coach Steve Hoglung: "We need to step up and challenge the upper echalon of the Cowapa League."

by: FILE PHOTO - Scappoose senior pitcher Lacey Updike will be a major piece in this year's team, which features a wide variety of athletes from different age and experience groups.It was a season of inches last year for the Scappoose softball program, fighting their way to the play-in round, but losing 7-5 on the road to Sisters. The Indians quickly found themselves down 6-1 in the bottom of the third inning, but put together a fantastic rally in the final stages, only to see their comeback bid fall short.

The loss was a microcosm for the entire season, which was littered with narrow trip-ups at the hands of highly ranked teams.

“Our assistant coach puts it this way: ‘If we would’ve just had 10 more hits last year our season would be totally different,'” said head coach Steve Hoglund.

The Indians lost more than their fair share of heartbreakingly close games, but with the start of this year's campaign just around the corner on March 17, there is some good news ahead. Scappoose lost three starters from the team, but the youth saw significant playing time and the program has a strong balance of players at every level.

In addition, they'll be seeing the return of three all-league players. Standout graduate Cassidy Hoglund being the only exception, Scappoose will get the pitching talents of senior Lacey Updike, along with offensive threats from senior Lexi Courtney and sophomore Ashley MacGinnis, who was one of three freshman to see time with the starting lineup. Pitcher Kendall Bailey and fellow sophomore Jessie Dykes will also return from last year's squad, playing alongside four seniors and a pair each of juniors and freshman.

“I would say really balanced, good quality,” said Hoglund. “Let’s hope they can grow into starting positions.”

The team will begin the season on the road on March 17 at North Marion, and then return to Scappoose for their home opener against Molalla on March 18. At the tail end of spring break, though, comes one of their most important trips of the year, a three-day visit to Milton-Freewater, about 30 minutes northeast of Pendleton.

They'll be taking part in a tournament at McLoughlin High School, playing a game on Friday, March 28 and returning for another game the next afternoon. The softball is important, but the value of team bonding is equal or greater than the experience gained on the field.

“The Milton-Freewater trip is real important for building team chemistry. I think it’ll be real successful,” said Hoglund. “The kids are looking forward to it, they’re planning. The parents have stepped up and been a positive to the program.”

Team chemistry can often overcome obstacles that pure talent and desire would miss, and unity is something they'll need if they hope to make a splash in their league this season.

“The last three years, Banks has won the state championship from our league, and the last two years, Yamhill-Carlton has taken second,” Hoglund said. “We need to step up and challenge the upper echelon of the Cowapa (League).”

They'll have a few additional tune-ups before they hit the ground in league play. The team will visit Clatskanie and Central to start off April, and will play their final non-league game against Roosevelt at Delta Park on April 11.

From there on out, nothing is easy. They'll have double-headers with Banks and Yamhill-Carlton in April, with the latter coming at home on April 25. The Indians will play Astoria at home on April 29, and will close out their home schedule with Banks on May 6 in the penultimate game of the season.

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