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St. Helens Softball Opes Both Experienced And Fresh Faces Can Take Them Where They Want To Go


St. Helens Softball Opes Both Experienced And Fresh Faces Can Take Them Where They Want To Go

Sometimes in order to get where you want to go, individuals and/or teams need a little nudge.

Last year’s St. Helens softball team finished 18-9 overall, won a share of the Cowapa League title and advanced to the state playoffs. This year, despite the departure of a handful of key seniors, including co-captains Cydney Brandt and Ellie Austin, Lions head coach and 2023 Co-Cowapa League Coach of the Year Miranda Little said that this year’s team is getting that “nudge” from a couple of hungry seniors, and as a result, the team is benefitting.

“We have two athletes, Ava Eib, and Andie Brooks that stepped right into that leadership role without a question,” Little said. “They lead the team in practices and games, they are vocal in a positive way, and they are hungry for another championship.”

Despite the loss of their co-captains and first team all-leaguers, the St. Helens cupboard is far from bare for they return Brooks and sophomore infielder Addy Ellis who too were all-league first-teamers, along with Eib who earned honorable mention.

That experience coupled with existing and young talent, along with a will to win, should — per their coach — give the team a real chance at meeting or exceeding last year’s team’s success.

“I do believe that the experience of those upperclassmen will help the team this year,” Little said. “We have a very competitive group of athletes this year, and they push each other to be better at every practice.”

And that’s proven to be true early on.

Through three games this year, contests against Molalla and two versus Ridgeview, the Lions are 3-0 and outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 48-17.

Over that same three-game span, Eib is 8-for-12 with seven RBI; Brooks is 5-for-10 with a home run and eight RBI; and Ellis is 7-for-8 with 10 RBI.

That type of offensive potency has come to be expected by Little who said they shouldn’t have any trouble swinging the bats, but it’s on the defensive side of things that they’ll need to excel if they want to win at the level they desire.

“We are going to hit the ball,” the coach said. “Our strength this year is going to be in our hitting, but it’s the ability for us to make those tough plays that can make or break a game.”

Little said that in addition to their veteran leaders, she is eager to see a group of young standouts who appear poised to contribute.

“We are always excited to see the new talent coming up,” she said. “We have three freshman (Eme Curaming, Addi Andrehson and Jadyn Pense) that will see some varsity time throughout the season, on top of a very talented group of sophomores that spent time on varsity last year.”

As exciting as it is for the coach — and the rest of the team — to welcome new/young talent, Little said there are challenges that come with it. Due to those challenges, she said it’s important that they successfully integrate the new kids in with the older ones prior to the league season, so as to get everyone working together and firing on all cylinders.

“We want to make sure that we get the team bonded before we get into league,” the coach said. “With the mixture of both upper and underclassmen, we want everyone to feel welcome and like a contributing member of the team. Everyone has a role, and we will learn those roles as the season continues.”

And what does Little hope that will get them? Wins, obviously. But in addition to that, she said the team is very open about what they hope to accomplish both individually and as a group, and will feverishly work to succeed in doing just that.

“We set individual goals for offense and defense at the beginning of the season, as well as team goals,” Little said. “We recheck those goals at the end of preseason, and then when we reach the halfway point of league to see what we need to do to accomplish those goals, or if we need to reset them.”

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