By Jeremy McDonald
SCIO, Ore.—It’s hard to imagined a time in which Scio Softball weren’t as successful as they are now, and that was just four, short years ago when Nora Mikolas was a freshman on the Varsity squad that went 10-11 and 4-10 in the Old-PacWest Conference in the 2014 season.
The feel was that of fun as the Lady Loggers program finished out of the playoffs as the Scio softball-program was an after-thought and not taken as seriously as they are now.
But, by her sophomore season, the improvement across the board caught the eye of those around them as they finished 26-3 overall and 15-0 in the current PacWest-Format as they made a Cinderella run to the Semi-Final round where they hit the buzz-saw of Rainier, losing 10-2.
That team was onto something as they entered that offseason.
“I play ASA, but you came out here and your playing at a ASA-level more and it was a really good feeling good feeling going from losing every game and started to win and people were like, ‘wow, Scio they actually got something going from them.’ It was just cool to see how amazed people were on how good we’ve been,” said Mikolas.
Entering their junior year and in need of a catcher after the graduation of Cheyanne Rimer the year before, Emily Unrau returned to the diamond after a two-year break to the sport she’s played since elementary school and was effective right off the bat, helping Scio back to the Semi-Final round versus those same Lady Columbians.
“A lot of it was the coaching staff because the coaching staff had change so I thought I’d give it a try and most of the players knew I had caught before and so they all had confidence in me and played varsity for them,” said Unrau. “It was exciting for me.”
Mikolas was supportive and liked how her fellow senior was able to step in when the team needed someone with the experience of Unrau to step in and be successful.
“We definitely needed her we didn’t have another catcher,” laughed Mikolas. “And she stepped up when we didn’t have anyone else which was pretty cool.”
The Lady Loggers were close to Rainier their junior year, but couldn’t crack into the final for the second-year-in-a-row; but they know the program has arrived by their senior season with the targets on their backs as a team.
“There was a lot of changes between freshman, sophomore and junior year, we became ‘The Team To Beat’,” said Mikolas. “I mean there was a target on our back and we knew it. I was kind of cool to wear that target, like ‘Come at us, we’re ready’.”
Entering their senior season, they knew they had the talent. Them as seniors, a strong junior class lining up with them and a few underclassmen as well knew this year was going to be special as Mikolas and Unrau look to end their prep careers with a bang.
“Just giving it our all, that’s all we got to do, that’s it,” starts Unrau
“I don’t know, I mean it’s exciting, the last 2 years have ended in disappointment a little bit, so we came out here, ‘this is our last chance guys, it’s now or never. It’s either going to happen or not’, and I think everyone’s taken it to heart and they want to send us out of here on a high note,” adds Mikolas. “We’re so excited, that’s why we’re here today ready to practice.”
Under the warm skies in Scio, certainly a outlier in a crazy Spring, the now 25-2 Scio Softball team finished yet another PacWest conference undefeated and were coming off a 15-0 win over Rogue River Wednesday.
In that game, Mikolas hit a homerun and Unrau caught Kelsey Pollard’s 60-pitch No-Hitter to advance to the Elite 8.
Mikolas and homeruns aren’t unfamiliar as Mikolas has hit quite a few this season alone, but they sure don’t get old doing the Homerun Trot.
“It never gets old,” smiles Mikolas. “I’ve hit a decent amount of homeruns and it never gets old. It’s just excited to see the ball fly over the fence and just to run home and see every single teammate just there cheering you on, it’s just overwhelming.
Unrau, it was just an honor to catch a pitcher of a Kelsey Pollard’s-caliber is something awesome to be able to do.
“Being able to catch for Kelsey (Pollard) and all the pitches she throws, all the different ones and being able to say, ‘I catch for the best pitcher in our league, in the State’, it’s exciting to know I’m the one behind the plate,” said Unrau on catching Pollard.
Unrau and Mikolas both joined Pollard as part of seven first-teamers in the PacWest Honors list, but it’s just step one of what they want to do:
Win A State Title.
It’s definitely nice going out with a bang, obviously that was the first step on the way to the top but, it’s exciting. Like I said it never gets old,” said Mikolas on the first-team honors. “Since Day 1, it’s been our goal to go out and win the State Title this year and it’s been pedal to the medal, the days out in the pouring rain practicing.”
That’s been what they’ve been doing as seniors, working hard as much as their younger peers as they hope their younger peers carry that over to next season.
“Obviously we want them to do next year, like these girls are more than just a team, they’re our friends, sisters to us.
“We’ve been all going to school together sincee forever,” adds Unrau.
“We’ve had out ups and downs, wins-and-losses, we want them to do good and we want them to continue and want them to succeed. But we want to be apart of the success this year,” laugh Mikoals.
But, as they prepare for Blanchet Catholic Friday at home, the highlight of the year alongside the bus trips and the Pilot Rock Tournaments over the years was the 12-4 win over Dayton earlier this season that proved to them as seniors, as a team, that they can do it this year.
“Probably the Dayton game, because we came in knowing like they’re a tough team to beat and we’re going to have to give it everything we’ve got or it’s not going to happen,” said Unrau on why the Dayton game.
“It just proved to us that we’re capable to people we can do this, we can take it all the way and we’re really excited,” said Mikolas.
With the Lady Cavailers coming to town, it’s hard not to see why Mikolas and Unrau is confident that this year is the year they’ll get over the hump and contend for the Banner with these girls that just want what they want just as much as they do.
“We’re in school all day then we come out here for two hours we’re together again,” smiled Mikolas. “I see these girls more than I see my family.”
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