Photo by Ray Rodriguez
The Dalles softball players and coaches come together for a group shot before a intra-squad scrimmage held Friday night at 16th Street Ballpark. The varsity team has depth, solid defense, an ace pitcher and plenty of offensive firepower on the roster for first-year head coach Kim Kiser. In the photo are, from left to right, starting in the back row, assistant coach Danielle Sayres, assistant coach Katherine Kramer, Lauryn Belanger, Kathryn Bradford, Jodi Thomasian, Mikayla Kelly, Bailey LeBreton, Audrey Synon, assistant coach Meghan Rowland and head coach Kim Kiser. In the front row are, from left, Kilee Hoylman, Ella Salvatori, Hannah Wallis, Emma Weir, Madison Troutt and Jessika Nañez.
There was a valuable lesson learned from last season.
The Dalles softball seniors Emma Weir, Jodi Thomasian and Kathryn Bradford all have the mindset of moving forward and not looking back.
With a new coaching staff, led by Kim Kiser and some good depth at all positions, the pieces are in place to make some great things happen for the Lady Riverhawks.
“Last year was last year. We have to grow from that and make sure that we move ahead and learn from what happened,” Weir said. “If we constantly look back and beat ourselves up, we will not be able to grow as a team. We want to show that last year was not us. We can play great softball, we are a better team.”
Even without graduated seniors, Shaynie Watson, Kailin Hoylman and Sierra Watson, Kiser can use Kilee Hoylman, Ella Salvatori, Hannah Wallis, Jessika Nanez, Bailey LeBreton, Lauryn Belanger and freshman Maddie Troutt in different positions.
“We have girls with power. We have been known to hit a lot of home runs as a team, so I think we can score a lot of runs,” Weir said.
Bradford, an all-state recipient last season, is a potent leadoff bat, Thomasian, Weir, Belanger, Audrey Synon, Troutt and LeBreton bring power to the plate, and Hoylman, Salvatori, Wallis and Nanez bring speed, bunting ability and stolen bases to the offense.
An extra emphasis has been placed on a more balanced offensive showing, as last season, The Dalles scored three runs or fewer 13 times in 25 games, including seven shutouts.
When the offense was clicking, however, the Hawks surpassed the seven-run mark seven times.
“Coach said we are going to be doing so many different things on offense,” Wallis said. “I think that’s what makes it fun. She wants to put us in a position to have success, but the players need to be willing to make a bunt, steal a base and do whatever is needed when she asks us. We can be dangerous for sure. I like our potential.”
Pitching is also going to be an area of interest for the Riverhawks, who lost Sierra Watson from circle duties.
LeBreton can be the ace pitcher and Kilee Hoylman may see some extra time but, early on, Kiser is going to use as many arms as possible to find a solid core.
Last year, the Riverhawk pitching staff allowed 220 runs in going 3-22, with 102 of those tallies being unearned due to errors and miscues on the field.
“Pitching is going to be key for us. We need our girls to throw well,” Kiser said. “Our pitchers throw to contact, so I think our biggest need is for our defense to step up and make plays. We can’t have the errors and extra outs, we have to be sure-handed and execute on defense to help our pitchers out. We are doing well so far in that regard.”
While the Riverhawks are kind of unknown as the regular season approaches, Kiser expressed patience in the process, as she will be tinkering with some aspects of the roster to find out what roles serve each player best.
“Part of being a team is just going out and playing,” Wallis said. “We need to stay together and celebrate each other’s success. When we support each other, we are much better. When we are negative, then bad things can happen. Our attitude is going to be important.”
The goal is to make a jump into the playoffs.
TD may not be at a state-championship caliber just yet, but there is a lot of season left.
“That’s what makes this season so fun. Everyone is 0-0 and starting new,” Kiser said.
“Everything that happened in the past is gone and forgotten. We need to have the mindset of starting this year like everything is brand new. We have a great group of hard-working girls here that want the best for each other. We are going to make the plays, hustle and fight for everything. If it leads us to state, that will be a credit to them.”
TD kicks off the regular season at 5 p.m. Wednesday versus 6A Liberty.
Weir, who battled injuries last season, is happy to move on from what transpired, adding that there is more of a sense of urgency from the senior core.
“We can’t let that happen again,” Weir said. “It is about having and showing pride in ourselves. When we play up to our abilities, we can beat any team.”