West Linn softball team will use experience, hitting in 2019 race
The West Linn softball team has been knocking on the door for a couple years.
In 2017, the Lions went 10-4 and finished third in the Three Rivers League. In 2018, West Linn went 8-4, finished third again and saw outfielder Brooke McKelvey named Player of the Year and head coach Monica Sorenson named Coach of the Year.
Unfortunately, the Lions came up empty in the Class 6A state playoffs each year, both times failing to advance past the first round.
West Linn would like to remedy that situation in 2019.
"We always compete and we will again this year," Sorenson said. "If we hit like we did last year, I expect us to make the playoffs again."
While the Lions graduated McKelvey and fellow first-teamer Kaitlyn Lampson last spring, they do return four all-league players this year — senior pitcher Lexie Finke (she was a second-team all-TRL pick last spring), senior infielder Taylor Maxwell (another second-teamer), senior utility player Gracie Hook (second team) and junior infielder Lexie Grein (honorable mention).
"This is an 'older' team that has a lot of strong leaders," Sorenson said. "The players are used to the system and how we play. It makes things much easier."
As to the team's experience, West Linn also brings back another six players with varsity experience from a year ago. That group includes senior outfielder Kayla Johnson, senior infielder Paige Mueller, senior pitcher Kacie Allen, junior pitcher Delaney Southards, junior utility player Lauren Amesquita and sophomore infielder Ava Peters.
Newcomers to the varsity roster are junior infielder Ali Campbell and freshman utility player Ava Sin.
The Lions believe that their experience and familiarity will pay big dividends this spring.
"We're an open team, in the sense that we can talk about what's going on, give ideas about what to change or make better," Sorenson said. "We want a family environment and that's what we strive for every day."
Sorenson said that she expects her three pitchers — Finke, Allen and Southards — to be a strength this year.
"Our pitchers are a great group of ladies that work wonderfully together," she said. "Any of them can start a game and the others will finish the game for us."
That said, the challenge in the Three Rivers League is a big one, a league populated by last year's Class 6A state champion (unbeaten Tualatin), semifinalist Oregon City and quarterfinalist Tigard.
"The Three Rivers is one of the toughest leagues in the state," Sorenson said. "There are many teams that will contend for the league title. Any of us could win it. Of course, I want us to be holding that trophy at the end of the year."
To see the Lake Oswego team preview, click here.
To see the Lakeridge team preview, click here.