By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The West Salem Softball team had a strong finish to the 2019 season, reaching the first-round of the 6A State Playoffs before falling to Westview in the first round last May.
Starting 5-8 in 2019, the Titans wheeled off 11 wins in their final 15 games with a strong returning core once the season kicks off hopefully at the end of April.
“Biggest strengths going into this year will be the veteran varsity players, starting with Jenny Ball, and the leadership they bring to the team,” said Head Coach Ty Nicholson. “They know from experience the work it takes to get to the end goal and are ready for that challenge.”
In a Mountain Valley Conference where McNary will look to repeat, South Salem and Bend each equally strong cores from last year…all four teams made the postseason with the Celtics reaching the Sweet 16 before losing to eventual State Champion Sheldon May 22.
Challenging league yes, said Nicholson, but West Salem will have their own challenges in-house with five new Varsity players coming up to the big show. Three Freshman, a sophomore and a Junior will be battling for spots and will be ready to compete.
“All will be able to fill a role within the team, all play with confidence and compete,” said Nicholson of the five. “We currently have a few freshmen that have come in and are competing for spots. Fun to watch the hard work and coach ability of these young players.”
And with Ball, a first-team All-MVC and first-team All-State selection, at the helm as the leader of the squad this Spring, who saw their season pushed back to start April 28 at the earliest, Nicholson is expecting the Senior Shortstop to continue to lead by example when the games start up.
“Jenny is a great leader who leads by example. Those young girls respect her and look up to her. The break will be tough to come back from but I know I have great girls and competitors.”
As of now, the Titans will open the season on that April 28 start-date at McNary.