By Jeremy McDonald
Following a legend like Rob Umbenhower is always tough. Dayton Head Coach Dave Fluke mentioned the old Joe Torre quote of ‘no wants to follow Joe Torre’.
But here they are, 4-2 on the year. Rebounding off the tough two games against Yamhill-Carlton to start the year as they enter their third three-game series this week with Scio. Traveling to Scio Wednesday before hosting the Loggers Friday for a doubleheader.
“Rob’s a fantastic coach, I felt pressure but it’s softball. I love doing it,” Fluke said of taking over for Umbenhower. “We try to carry on some traditions that Rob started and continue doing that.”
From the design on the hats that Umbenhower designed to warm-ups and the mentality instilled in the program. The minor things along the way Fluke have continued from when Umbenhower, who’s currently at La Pine, as the Pirates embarked on their first ‘official’ season without the longtime coach. Joking that it’s no picnic taking over the program.
With three seniors on the team in Maddie Fluke, Jodi deSmet and Brooke Olivera, the short season has and will be a good learning experience for the younger generation to get the reps in for next season.
Since their defeats against the Tigers to start the season, the team has gelled together. Old faces meshing with the new faces, mixing in with the old philosophies with a slightly different twist and take.
“It’s been awesome since we started off a little rough, we’ve been working really hard in practice and just to start seeing us working together and start working together as a team,” said deSmet. “We haven’t been playing together a lot and through practice and through game situations we’ve learned a lot about each other and we’re started to trust each other. I’m excited to see where this season will take us.”
deSmet also added, as she takes over the catching duties from Sofia Cicerone this season, that last season they were looking forward towards making a run for their third-straight 3A State Title appearance before the Coronavirus Pandemic hit. And as they’re riding a four-game winning streak, they’re just happy to play one last time and show their friends, families and community what they are capable of doing during these six-weeks.
Showing their appreciation as they start their third week Wednesday. Battling for one of the five automatic bids or one of the three at-large bids for the Cumulative Week here in three weeks as they went to work Tuesday for Scio this week.
“If we keep working hard in practice and just keep doing our best during games, working together and bonding more as a team, I think we can improve a lot as we continue to grow,” deSmet said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald