Faced with its first dose of adversity, in a season-high five-game losing streak, The Dalles softball team is headed to the start of Columbia River Conference play this weekend still feeling like there is a chance to contend and turn things around for the greater good.
Through the first eight games, the Eagle Indians amassed a 6-2 record with wins over Marist, Redmond, Bend and Mountain View and averaged 10.5 runs per game.
Since their last win on March 25, an 8-4 outcome at home over Mountain View, the Tribe has lost their last five games by a combined 46-14 margin and in the process dropped from a top-5 ranking down to No. 13.
One of the biggest reasons for the dubious streak, could be chalked up to pitching, defense or offense.
In these last five contests, The Dalles has put up a scant 2.8 runs a game, including a 3-0 shutout loss on April 11 at Hillsboro, where they managed just five hits.
So the question remains if this current offensive trend is a sign of things to come or just an aberration.
Historically, the Eagle Indians have been a solid offensive unit, as the early season numbers point out.
“In a few games we have had rough innings not hitting, but for the most part, I think we can rally back,” said freshman catcher Grace Helyer in an earlier interview. “I think we just need to focus in on what will make us better. We know we have a good enough offense, we just need to do it more consistently.”
Timarra Roth, represents a group of more experienced players that has had to help nurture and mold a group of five freshman as they deal with the topsy-turvy world of varsity athletics.
After a five-year run of semifinal berths was cut short last season, Roth knows the expectations remain high for every player in the dugout.
Going through these struggles have given this team so many learning opportunities.
“It has taught me that we definitely cannot let our guard down for any team whether we come in winning undefeated or coming in losing every game,” Roth said. “It is important that we play each inning at a time with our level of confidence and our level of playing at a high. Instead of thinking that we are going win each game, we need to go in thinking ‘how about we win each inning’ and then go on from there.”
There is no magic formula in terms of righting the ship, just a handful of players banding together during this time.
With the focus on league play from here on out, the Tribe has to prepare itself to compete at an elite level, especially with the likes of No. 1-ranked Hood River Valley (10-3 record), No. 4 Pendleton (9-4) and No. 24 Hermiston (4-8) on the horizon.
The first critical test start at noon Saturday in Hermiston.
It is there that TD can send a message that it is not going down without a fight.
“It is important for us not to get down on ourselves,” said freshman infielder and pitcher Maddy Bradford. “It is kind of crunch time now. We are going to start league and we need every one of us at the same level. We need to stay positive, play confident, trust our defense, trust our hitting and we will be good.”