Softball-The Lady Loggers are a very young team but are currently in first place in their District with a 5-1 record; they are 9-1 overall this season and are ranked 5th in the state after winning two of three games against Gaston. Vernonia beat Gaston 6-0 in their first meeting and then split a double header on April 11, losing the opener 6-2 but coming back to win the second game 3-0.
Head Coach Mike Fetch and assistant Ernie Smith have six freshman and three sophomores on the squad along with a few seniors and juniors. “We’re young but we have a lot of talent,” says Fetch.
Sophomore Kassidy Fetch is the starting pitcher with freshman Payton Wolf also seeing some time there. Fetch went the distance for the Lady Loggers and earned a shut out win in the second game against Gaston. Sophomore Sarah Smith is the starting catcher with Wolf and freshman Pearl Cook as the back-ups. The infield has sophomore Paige Smith at first base, Wolf is starting at second, Cook is the shortstop and junior Taylor Titus plays third base. Senior Jerrian Pond anchors the outfield in center field.
Offensively Wolf has been hitting the ball hard as well as running the bases and setting the tone for the team. Cook, Fetch, Sarah Smith, Titus and Pond have all been consistent at the plate, getting on base, providing key hits, moving runners and driving in runs.
Coach Fetch says he has been finding playing time in the outfield and getting good contributions from freshmen Cassidy Whitten and Autumn Sorenson.
Track and Field-Head Coach Byron Brown and assistant coach Teresa Williams have thirty-five students out for the team this year. Brown says the team shows some great potential with some returning leaders and some new talent.
The team has had four meets so far—the Grizzly Bear Open in McMinneville, NWL Relays in Neah-Kah-Nie, the Tillamook Invitational and a league meet in Knappa on April 10. They had two upcoming meets, one at Portland Christian on April 17 and at Banks on April 19.
For the girls, Brown has returning runner Meghan Sullivan, who went to state in 4 events last year and scored points in each one. “Meghan’s coming off an injury so we’ve been careful about that, and limited her competing early in the season,” says Brown. “She should be ready for another great performance at District in the middle of May.” Also showing state qualifying potential on the girls team is Stephanie Castro, who went to state 2 years ago in the shot put, and Emma D’Onghia in sprints.
According to Brown Jacob Medearis and Dan Rice have shown real leadership on the boys team. The 4×400 team of Drew Cheney, Devon Shay, Rice and Medearis won the event at Knappa, beating all other league teams, with Medearis come-from-behind anchor leg one of the highlights of the meet. Brown says the strength of the boys team is the flexibility of his runners who can compete in anything from the 100 to 1500 meters. Adding to the depth of the team is Paul Lemaron, (who just completed his first marathon as the youngest runner to run the Vernonia marathon) is one of the top 1500 and 3K runners in the NWL league and Dom Woods in the sprints. Dylan Taylor is the best thrower in the shot and discus. “We need him to have a break out year and coach Williams and I expect him to do it,” says Brown. In addition Alex Rubiera, Jacob Harbour and Julius Haake also show potential. “We need them to come through for us if we are going to achieve our potential as a team,” says Brown.
Baseball-First year head coach Joe Walters has his squad in the middle of the pack with a 3-4 record in District I and a 5-7 record overall after losing a close game to Portland Lutheran, 6-5, losing 2 of 3 games to Gaston and previously taking 2 of 3 games from Nestucca.
Walters is getting some great technical assistance from assistant coach Jim Krahn, who played minor league baseball at one time. “He is a treasure chest of knowledge,” says Walters. “It’s amazing how much that man knows about baseball.”
Walters and Krahn have a nice mix of players this year, with some experienced seniors leading the way and several freshman seeing significant playing time.
Senior Tim Jennings and freshman Bailey Morrison are the starting pitchers, with seniors Ronnie Maldonado and Bo Clark and freshman Brett Elliot also seeing time on the mound. “Jennings and Morrison have kept us in a lot of games early in the season,” says Walters. “They throw a lot of strikes.” In a loss against Gaston Jennings worked five innings, giving up 7 hits and 5 runs, just 2 of them earned, while striking out 8.
Clark is the starting catcher with Elliot as his back-up.
Senior Jared Whitton is the starting first baseman with senior John Dass at second, Morrison starts at shortstop and Elliot has taken over starting duties at third base. In the outfield senior Adonis Hopkins is solid in center field, Maldonado starts in left and a handful of players are competing for playing time in right field.
Offensively Walters says his whole team is really starting to hit the ball well. Walters noted Dass as having really improved and has moved up in the lineup.
Walters also has a large contingent of foreign exchange students on his squad. “I’m really glad to see them coming out and giving it a try because none of them has ever played a lick of baseball before,” says Walters. Most impressive has been Sam Hout, a naturally gifted athlete who played hockey in his native Canada. Hout has earned some playing time in right field, where he can catch and throw, and has also practiced at first base. Hout impressed Walters with his willingness to learn and even got a single in his first ever at-bat in a game.
The Loggers have an upcoming doubleheader against Portland Lutheran and then a series against Faith Bible with a home game on April 22.