By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– It’s a double-edge sword for the McNary Softball team entering this Spring in hopes to having the opportunity to repeat as Mountain Valley Conference-Champions.
It’ll be hard to replace pitching, as MVC Pitcher of the Year Faith Danner graduated after the Celtics finished 20-9 overall and 13-1 in league, reaching the 6A Second Round before falling to Sheldon last May. But McNary also returns a solid core with Alexa Cepeda, Taylor Ebbs and Kate Ronning leading the charge, the three will look to leave their mark hopefully once they get on the field.
“Watching Alexa through our winter workouts, and with the short time we had practicing, I had the feeling that she was on the verge of a big year. She has worked very hard to improve and it was definitely showing,” said McNary Head Coach Kevin Wise. “It is hard to add much more about Taylor, returning conference player of the year, but she continues to look dominant, and is a leader in every sense of the word.
“Kate Ronning is one of those players who I think gets overlooked. Likely one of the better third basemen in the state and another great leader on and off the field.”
With five freshmen coming up to the High School level this year, three are likely to receive a lot of Varsity innings as the team is scheduled to get back at it on April 28.
Lacey Vasas looks to be taking over the pitching duties from Danner. KJ Custer, who normally lines up at shortstop, will be lining up at second base next to Ebbs at Short. Heather Ebner, who comes into this year at about six-feet tall, will be splitting time between catcher and first base.
“It is hard to say without playing a game yet, but Lacey is looking like she might be our starter,” starts Wise. “KJ could potentially be another version of Taylor Ebbs. Heather Ebner, who hovers around 6 feet tall and can hit the lacings off the ball, will probably spend a lot of time at catcher and first base.”
The core returning will bring the frosh up to speed as the loss to the Irish has motivated the team entering this Spring.
“This team is heavily motivated after losing to Sheldon last year in the playoffs, and they want to make a deep run this year, if given the chance,” said Wise. “I know we have the talent and determination, but only time will tell where that gets us.”