By Jeremy McDonald
MILL CITY, Ore.– Five years ago Santiam didn’t field a softball team and when the Wolverines started back up their program in 2015, these current wave of seniors were eighth graders as Santiam played an Independent Schedule that year.
Over the next four years, the program has slowly built themselves into a playoff contender. Reaching the postseason twice in the last three years under third-year Head Coach Greg Grenbemer. Both a first for the program entering their second-round game with Vernonia Wednesday on the road.
Going to battle with ten girls on their 19-4 team, the most wins in a season over the past five years, McKenzie Weaver has kept them in games, defense holds and offense has been their key scoring the third most runs in 2A/1A behind Central Linn (405) and St. Paul (352) this season.
Their 6-5 loss to the Lady Buckaroos, who had their first-ever playoff appearance themselves this season, was that one true ‘bad’ loss in terms of performance this season.
“We’ve done it with 10 girls all year and only really one loss at St. Paul where we gave up five unearned runs with two outs to lose,” starts Grenbemer, who’s been 43-26 the last three years as Head Coach. “We haven’t really had bad losses this year, we’ve beaten everybody we’ve needed. We’ve played Toledo lost by one, Kennedy thumped us a couple of times but other than that, St. Paul was our only loss.
“They’ve just grown, it’s just nice to see how they’ve gained momentum. We had a whole JV team for the first time that anyone could remember, and they went out and competed.”
And with seventh and eighth-graders coming up, Grenbemer is confident he’ll be able to fill the big shoes left by the six leaving seniors from this season’s squad and possibly have another full JV team in 2020.
Interestingly enough, under Grenbemer the Wolverines haven’t finished worst than .500 in league in the three years he’s been the Head Coach. The worst league record was their 9-9 season last season while going 8-7 his first year in 2017 and 13-2 this season.
Adding to the Santiam Madness over this season with Football, Boys and Girls Basketball, Baseball and Track and Field success in 2018-2019, Softball too made it to the State level with playoffs and won their first-ever playoff game Monday afternoon against Bandon.
Weaver struck out six with Britanny Grenbemer, Maddison Hicks and Maddy Forste all having multi-hit games in the history making game. With the Tigers rallying to make it a 9-5 game after an initial 9-0 lead by the Wolverines, Santiam scored six runs to ice the 15-5 win in five innings.
“It was amazing because we started yesterday with a 9-0 lead, just like what we did against Bonzana and to actually see us bring the ‘W’ home. It was a really amazing win, especially with the girls I’ve been playing with, it’s a really great feeling,” said Hicks of the win.
And with the Loggers ahead, another win would put the Wolverines in the Quarterfinals against the winner of Monroe-Toledo on Friday. Coach Grenbemer told the girls at the end of the rainy practice to not let Wednesday be the last time they’ll put on their cleats as they prepare for Vernonia.
“We shouldn’t settle for just winning yesterday’s game and we should come out and look at it as Vernonia’s tough competition,” said Hicks. “So it’ll be tough competition and we had a great game yesterday, but Vernonia is great competition so I’m feeling good about tomorrow.”
First pitch of the road game will be at 4:30pm.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald