By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– This time last year, the Stayton softball team were amongst one the toughest seasons in recent memory.
With two games to go in the 2014-2015 season, the Lady Eagles were 1-21 overall and 0-13 in the Oregon West Conference en route to a 1-23 and 0-15 record.
Fast forward nearly a year later, though they sit in the same spot in the standings, they’ve improved dramatically.
Record-wise, they sit at 8-15 overall and 3-10 in the OWC. As a team, they’ve came together as a team.
“I feel like we just stuck together a little bit more than last year,” said Sydnee Neuhardth, who was on that varsity team from last year. “Last year, there were people who would get down on each other instead of staying together as a team.”
For Head Coach Jeff Silbernagel, he’s seen the improvement, but knows his team still needs to find that killer instinct to get over the hump.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress from last year,” he said. “We’ve won some ball games compare to last year, this team has a little more potential to win a few more ball games I think than what we have.
“We’ve got to get some killer instincts, I don’t what else you’ll call it, some of my younger ones are starting to step up and be aggressive. They’ve been wanting to want it and that’s a good sign and we can go from there.”
With two games left, both Neuhardth and Emily Lindemann both know if they can get out of their own way, they’ll be great entering 2016-2017 with some momentum.
“I felt like we’ve improved a lot because last year we came from winning one game out of the whole season and now we’ve won I think at least eight and so I think we’ve improved a lot,” started Lindemann. “(But) I think our problem is that we get into our heads a lot. So for the last two games, I think if we can get out of our heads and come out strong then we can finish really well.”
“We can just stay together and brush everything off,” added Neuhardth. “Cascade is our biggest rival and they can get into our heads just as much as we can get into theirs. So we just need to make sure that we stay together and get over it.”
About that. About Cascade.
The Cougars are the featurette game in these last two games that’s coming up Wednesday, and like Neuhardth and Lindemann said, if they stay out of their heads and get into their’s, then they should be good on building that momentum to end the season and for next year.
As for Silbernagel, a Cascade graduate, he may use a trick that he’s hiding up his sleeve for practice Tuesday afternoon.
“We got our rival next and that should mean something to these guys,” he started to explain. “I know when I played for Cascade it did. I mean that’s the game we worry about all year and that’s the game they’ve got to want so that’s what they’re gonna hear when they go to practice tomorrow.”
Here’s the kicker, the trick that Silbernagel is consider breaking out from the depth of his playing days as he says it with a smile:
“I might even have to dig out an old Cascade hat out so I can piss them off a little.”
That Cascade game is at Cascade in Turner Wednesday at 4pm before the Stayton Lady Eagles end the season at Philomath Friday.
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PHOTOS (FROM MONDAY’S GAME VERSUS NORTH MARION. PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD)