By Jeremy McDonald
HILLSBORO, Ore.– Sitting in the dugout after being swept by Century Tuesday morning/afternoon, Coach Jay Elders talks to his young team about focusing on how they can improve between these two games and Monday’s practice and asking them to find a positive quote as a way to help try to change a culture with North Salem softball used to losing.
Elders and his assistant say they shouldn’t be satisfied with 2-4, nor losing by double-digit runs or even by one or two as they prepare for Greater Valley Conference play Tuesday with a improving McKay squad.
At 2-4, the Vikings are off to their best start since 2014-2015; but this team is improved from even’s last season as the team is taking to heart to what their coaches are saying post-game with attentive looks of focus.
Freshman Kaylynn Weston, one of the vocal leaders on the team as she splits time between catcher and the infield that bolsters four freshmen, spoke to how the team is looking entering GVC-play and what the preseason showed them what they need to work on.
“I think it taught us that we have a lot to work on, but we’ve also come a long way since previous years, and I think we have a good foundation, I think we’re just going to go up from here,” said Weston. “I think we work a lot better together, and I think we keep each other up more, like we don’t let each other get down, we just keep plugging away.”
Elders said that they need to build from minor victories for the major victories was seen with Kaylynn Weston pick-off move in the third inning, the infield making a handful of plays.
Pitcher Jayden Hastings showed some pitching control as after Century brought in their fourth run of the second game, Hastings struck out the next two batters as a ground-out ended the inning.
“I love the fact she battles through that adversity,” “She knows she’s not the fastest pitcher, she knows she doesn’t have a lot of pitches and she really goes out there to battle hard. She expects her defense to play for her.
“So we got to work harder for her because they are going to hit the ball off her, teams are going to. Those small little victories where she struck out two people, that’s very important for her and it’s really important for the team that we continue to win little victories like that.
Though he knows that minor victories like Hastings back-to-back strikeouts are great or Weston’s pick-off move are great for them to build from, Elders also knows his team needs to work on piecing it all together for that major victory as they look to Tuesday’s game at home.
And it starts with changing the culture of a negative mindset and turning it into a positive mindset, then that’ll lead to small victories and then with all that pieced together collectively, then you’ll get to those major victories.
“I love the small victories, I want to get those major victories,” laughed Elders. “What we need to do is put together a lot of small victories so we can get that major victory and it helps when the positive attitudes.
“We always have positive attitudes, that’ll lead into more small victories…you’ll play better when you are happy, you don’t play better when your down and your frowning and your head’s just down, you just don’t play better at all. We just got to change the attitudes and that’s what we’re really working on.”
As the team exited the dugout with the determined looks on their faces, North Salem knows how important these next couple of days are and how important Monday’s practice is to fix their problem-ed areas before the Scots come over Tuesday at 5pm.
“We really need to buckle down and fix some of our big errors in the field and just keep going, we just got to keep our heads up at practice and work extra hard,” said Weston.
They know they have a long road in front of them, but there is some excitement there in knowing that they have the ability to compete and do well in league this year.
“I’m so excited I think we’re going to do great,” said Weston. “Yeah we got a lot of work to do, but I think we have a good team.”
Elders adds his excitement to see how his young team’s hard work will pay off and how they can evolve and work on their weakness’ to become better as a team.
“I’m really excited for league. That’s when we get to turn it up a notch, those opponents are all in that Salem area, the team is really excited to get ready to start league,” said Elders. “We had the preseason, we got to play a lot of games, 2-4, and excited going into league because of the hard work and effort that we put in is going to pay off.
“We still have a lot of hard work to do and we’re going to continue to work hard until it gets done.”
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald