Tigard softball rides chemistry to success
To start the year, Tigard softball head coach Pete Kostel liked his talent, but without last season to measure and with only two seniors on the roster, the fifth-year Tigers head coach didn't know exactly what to expect heading into this year's slate of games.
Two months later, Tigard finished 16-2, won the Three Rivers League, and capped its culminating week competition with convincing wins over Newberg, Barlow and state power Jesuit.
"Everyone accepted their role — that was the number-one thing," Kostel said. "And when we needed kids to step up, they did. The chemistry with these girls was really great."
The Tigers were led by junior pitcher Makenna Reid, who finished the season 15-2 with a 1.10 ERA, while striking out 218 and walking just 31. Additionally, Reid threw two no-hitters and tallied 10 shutouts.
Reid was a first-team all-Three Rivers League performer as a freshman in 2019, so her performance wasn't exactly unexpected. But Kostel said while her physical skills came as no surprise, her increased mental fortitude was something he hadn't counted on.
"I was expecting her to be strong in the circle, but I think she made some gains mentally getting ready for the season," he said. "She also worked really hard in the offseason and really improved her command and control of her pitches — and it showed."
The Tigers weren't bad at the plate either, boasting three — and nearly four — .400-plus hitters, including team-leading junior Kani Korok (.480), senior Katie Regalado (.448) and junior Kaylin Kisor (.400). Just short of the .400 mark was sophomore catcher Karen Spadafora (.397) who Kostel said was "great defensively" and also hit eight home runs and batted in 25 runs, both team highs.
Kostel also mentioned Korok's strong defense at shortstop, Regalado's ree-mergence from missing her sophomore season due to injury and last year as a result of the pandemic, and fellow senior Sophia vanderSommen, who along with Regalado provided the young team with the leadership necessary to succeed on and off of the field.
"It was a very young team, so having those two seniors was really priceless," Kostel said.
The coach also spoke to the team's innate ability to be where they needed to be, when they needed to be there.
Kostel said that everyone accepted their role, hit where they needed them to in the lineup on a given day, and did whatever was asked of them defensively. He pointed specifically to Sera Reilly and sophomore pitcher Quindlan Kelleher, the latter of which stepped into the circle in place of Reid — dealing with some injuries — in the season finale versus Jesuit, allowing just three runs on four hits over five innings in a 5-3 win over the Crusaders.
"She'd (Kelleher) only pitched three innings all season before coming in at Jesuit," Kostel said. "It was awesome."
And so were the Tigers. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19 and the shortened season, there were no state playoffs this year.
"Certainly, it would've been fun," Kostel said of seeing the Tigers through to the playoffs. "I can't tell you whether or not we would've won it all, but I can tell you that we could've competed with anyone."
And one would think next year wouldn't be any different. After all, the Tigers return all but two players from this season's roster, including Reid, and will in all likelihood be the league favorite to start the year, and amongst a shortlist of teams potentially vying for a state championship.
Kostel said the prospect of what could happen next year certainly has him very excited, but at least for now, he wants to enjoy and appreciate what this team brought to the table this season, especially considering what they were forced to cope with up to and during the season.
He said he was impressed with how his girls handled things throughout and said that it's one thing to speak of adversity, but another thing to attack it head-on.
"These kids have gone through something that nobody's really had to go through before," Kostel said. "This was adversity that everyone had to go through this year, and our kids, I thought, knocked it out of the park."
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