Santiam Building On Youth

By Jeremy McDonald

MILL CITY, Ore.–  Only two girls remain from Santiam’s historic Softball Playoff team from two years ago in catcher Grace Lindemann and outfielder turned infielder Maddie Forste, both are Juniors this season as they see four freshman start in their 14-4 victory over Sheridan Thursday afternoon in Sheridan.

One of the freshmen was in the circle in McKenna Dodge, who picked up her first Varsity win as a pitcher on the road as the team worked through the rust of the last two years with their opening win.

“I was nervous but I think I did pretty good,” Dodge said.

“That was great playing yesterday, knock the dust off especially after not playing for two years and most of these girls who haven’t played in a Varsity game did so good.  I’m really excited for our game on Tuesday and next week after our performance we had yesterday,” Lindemann adds.  “It’s a big change going from a team that’s primarily Seniors to a team with a lot less experience and a lot younger team, but I think we got the potential to build that up over the next year.”

Coming off of about six practices, it was impressive how the Wolverines got to work pointed to Head Coach Greg Grenbemer with their youth.  Their bond together and outside of a few first-game jitters with errors and mistakes, it was a good start to the six-week season for the Canyon squad.

Santiam went 19-5 in 2019, reaching the 2A/1A State Second Round before falling to Vernonia (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Knowing that this is just the start of continuing the foundation set by them and has been built upon since the program was brought back in the Spring of 2015.

“We were able to hit the ball, field the ball and played really well.  They’re a discipline group, they want to be here, they want to play and look at what they’ve be through the fire, Covid and everything.  This is their safe-spot, this is where they come to let it out and hang out,” Grenbemer.  “It’s been really tough on them, but they’re really using this as a time to get out and they typically like either other.

“They’re here early, they’re always asking to stay late and hit but they’re a good group.”

Friday afternoon’s practice just went over a few things seen by Grenbemer and his staff from the day before.  Tuesday will present a new challenge with St. Paul and the Buckaroos liking to be aggressive.  A test to see where their defense stands and is looking when the Bucks come up the hill.

“I think that’ll be big for us.  Situational stuff.  The girls are learning, especially after yesterday after seeing a few things they haven’t seen so I think we’ll be able to work on those things before we play them.  That’ll definitely help us,” Lindemann said.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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