The Vale softball team finished its season last week after it suffered a 9-5 loss to Enterprise/Joseph/Wallowa. (The Enterprise/Scotta Callister).
JOHN DAY – Vale’s softball team, losing just two seniors to graduation, has another building year ahead.
Looking toward to next spring, Coach Darin Johnson said he hopes the team can continue to work on “knowing the game,” heeding the lessons learned in practice, and building commitment to excel.
The Vikings bowed out of the Eastern Oregon League District 3A, Special District tourney last Friday with a 9-5 loss to the combined team of Enterprise/Joseph/Wallowa.
The Enterprise team went on to take second in the district tournament, falling to league champs Grant Union in the second game of the afternoon.
Against Vale, the Cubs came out strong to build an early lead and the Vikings couldn’t recover.
The Vikings ended the year with a 6-2 record in league and 9-15 overall, putting them third in league but out of state contention.
Johnson said his players have struggled to position themselves for victory, and particularly to come from behind and win. That showed last week, he said.
“It should have been a 5-5 game, if you took away the errors,” he said. “Too many mental and physical mistakes.”
He said Enterprise is a “late bloomer team,” a fairly young squad but one that has gained skills and strength as the season progressed.
The Vikings, also young, were definitely in a building year.
“It was an OK season,” he said. “We just took some steps in the wrong direction.”
He singled out junior Gracee Jacobs and senior Kendall Hawley for their strong efforts over the season.
He called Jacobs “a top-caliber athlete” and hard worker who should go far.
He noted that Hawley, also a hard worker, put in four good seasons for the Viks, and he lauded her for stepping up to leadership this year.
Not on the 2018 roster but also getting plaudits from the coach was Faith Herrera, who played three years for the team and then took on the job of keeping stats this season. Johnson said she and her family have been tremendous backers of the team, bringing water and sports drinks and supporting the players off the field in many ways.
Two seniors, Hawley and Hunter Radloff, ended their high school softball careers with Friday’s game.
Also wrapping up the season for the Vikings were juniors Jacobs, Baylee Tolman, Isabella Sigrah, Erika Park, Sydnee Thomas and Kyla Wright; sophomores Demia Hardin, Sierra Cleaver, Morgan Hager and Alexys Rodger; and freshman Sadie Thomas.
The end of the season also brings a change in the top coaching spot. Johnson said he’s taking a break as head coach, but will be available to assist the new coach with workouts or other aspects of team preparation next spring, if desired. His successor has not been named.