The Raiders softball team finished with second place in the western division and secured a playoff spot to compete in the NWAACC tournament in Portland, Ore.
Although the team had grabbed second place in the division, it was given the 14th seed in the NWAACC. The Raiders faced a 4-1 opener loss to the third seed Southwest Oregon Lakers, but came back in the second round to defeat the Highline T-birds in a 9-4 victory. The second round victory against the T-birds was especially significant because they beat out the team earlier to take the divisional title.
New talent at some positions made good, consistent game play, which was questionable at the beginning of the season. The team pulled through to a 19-21 record and hopes to improve their performance in this year’s in the NWAACC, all that being said, they are on their way to doing it.
“This season has been a little different from previous seasons in that we haven’t been able to maintain a consistent level of play and a consistent level of intensity. We certainly have the talent, now we need to become consistently excellent,” Head Coach Mark Edmonston said.
Some key players throughout the season were: Aryn Knutsen, a leader in the team’s top batting average; offensive playmaker Kimmy Courneya; Candice Vela who had elevated her game in clutch situations throughout the season as well as Ashley Bezdicek and Tessa Sams, who both had good seasons. Pitchers Lunden Young, Kierston Perry and Jordan Steele have all effectively played their positions and contributed to the success of the team.
The team plans to slightly adapt their strategy for the playoff competition, but they’re confident keeping with what has been working for them so far in the season.
After this year’s trip to the NWAACC tournament, the team will hopefully return more key players and further the depth and experience of the team.
“We have incoming players who we are really excited about and we expect to return a core group of experienced and productive players, so even though it is way too early to tell, we expect to take a big leap forward next year,” Edmonston said.
The NWAACC tournament marks the end of the fifth season coach Edmonston has been coaching the softball program at Pierce. Edmonston has led the team to now six consecutive western divisional titles, and again a trip to the NWAACC, making Edmonston the most decorated coach in Raiders softball history.
“This has been a fun team to coach, they work very hard in the classroom, in the weight room and on the field,” Edmonston said. “We have grown together in a lot of ways and we are still learning about each other and finding ways to improve.”
The Raiders have moved into the loser out bracket and will compete in a must win game to still have the chance to bring home the NWAACC trophy.
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