By Jeremy McDonald
MILL CITY, Ore.– With the postseason just right around the corner and the regular season coming to an end the Santiam softball program has found themselves back in the 2A/1A postseason.
Still a relatively new program, their first season coming in the Spring of 2015, the Wolverines made the postseason two years later. And by year five, they won their first ever playoff game when they defeated Bandon 15-5.
Grace Lindemann, Maddie Forste and Katie Smith were freshmen that year and a part of the senior-heavy program that handed the reins to the younger girls in a good place. The three seniors have seen those playoffs and the 2A Title Week as they embark on one last postseason ride that starts Monday with Santiam slowly becoming playoff regulars. Now it’s their turn to lead as they enter the 2A/1A postseason for the fourth time since 2017 and leave their mark as the seniors did to them prior to them.
“Oh it’s cool, especially since I get to play with all the girls when I was a freshman with the seniors, now I’m playing with all their sisters. So it’s really cool, especially being in a small town and how we’ve built upon each other with the generations. Their sisters have taught them a lot and we all teach each other and I think it’s really cool to build on and have really good chemistry together.” Lindemann said.
“It’s awesome, I hope they do the same thing as we did,” adds Smith of the younger kids.
The last three games that the Wolverines have played in have seen them step up to the challenge. In their doubleheader against Jefferson, sophomore pitcher McKenna Dodge threw a complete game two-hitter in the opener and were down 5-2 going to the bottom half of the fourth inning to Kennedy in their season finale on May 17. The hope is that facing good pitching like the Lions Nayeli Hart and the Trojans Jenna Hopkins will help them prepare for Pilot Rock/Nixyaawii Monday and maybe North Douglas if they get past the Rockets on the road.
“It was nice. We’re always improving and the pitchers prepared us for what is going to come. We’re not going to have slow pitchers anymore, so we’re ready,” Smith said.
And as they wrapped up Friday’s midday practice, taking advantage of the early practice time with no school, it’s an odd-feeling knowing that it may be their last practice on home turf. The squad leaves Sunday and are staying overnight in Pendleton before their 4pm game at Pilot Rock High School.
“It could potentially be our last practice (here), so I think every practice, every game from this moment on counts for us,” Lindemann said. “It’s our last practice here for us and as a team. It’s a sad moment…but there’s no one else I would rather spend last season, last game, or last practice with them. It’s awesome.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald