Softball: Young Tigers showed much improvement as the season progressed

After an incredible run through the playoffs in 2007 to the regional championship game, the Douglas High softball team knew what they were capable of.

The large returning core from that squad spent the majority of this year trying to keep that momentum going.

It really didn't go so bad. The Lady Tigers opened the season going 9-2 before a three-game slip against Reno.

From their they rattled off 15 consecutive wins to clinch the No. 2 spot in the league before a first round loss to McQueen in the playoffs.

Douglas bounced back with wins against Wooster and Damonte Ranch before running out of gas against Reed in the regional quarterfinals.

"I'm just really proud of the team," Douglas coach Andy Mitchell said. "They're a joy to coach. They get along extremely well with each other and they pushed each other.

"Everyone on the roster went about this season trying to improve. They were all fighting for playing time and they worked hard. They got better because of it."

So Douglas will find itself once again with a large returning group (losing only two seniors, it will actually be larger and more experienced than this year) and will lose one of its chief rivals in Reno High due to the realignment in leagues.

Of course, the Tigers also lose North Valleys and Hug (two teams that Douglas was a combined 12-0 against in the last two seasons) in trade for Fallon, Galena and Bishop Manogue. All three are solid programs in their own right, meaning the battle for the league title should be wide open next season.

Douglas' entire infield unit will remain intact with four starters (Emily Weaver, Marina Diaz, Katrina Morgan and pitcher Stephanie Harper) entering at least their third year at the varsity level.

Harper has been the workhorse in the region these past two years, compiling a 44-13 record with 262 strikeouts in the circle. She will doubtlessly be one of the top pitchers in the region heading into her senior year.

Newcomers Morgan Blomstrom and Rebecca Trute slid into the starting spots at first and second respective and added an extra boost of power to the lineup.

Douglas will also keep starters Mackenzie Cauley and Mia Townsell in the outfield, but will need to replace four-year super slugger Lauren Hoppe (18 career home runs) in center.

Catcher Katrina Morgan, who blasted seven home runs with 47 RBIs (equating to one for every hit she registered this season) should be able to fill in the power numbers with the help of Cauley next season, but on the whole the entire lineup will provide a lot of flexibility.

The returning players alone clocked 43 doubles, 15 triples and 12 home runs this season to go with 168 RBIs.

Douglas will need to find a replacement for Dorothy Sliva as Harper's back-up on the mound. Sliva posted a 3-1 record this season with 11 strikeouts in 13 appearances.

Other than that, returners Donna Judd, Tara Paiement and Maddy Gilbert can all work from multiple spots on the field giving the Tigers an added measure of depth heading into next season.

Add another summer of tournament experience and the prospects start looking pretty decent.

"We'll have a couple kids playing over the hill for the summer, and that'll be good experience," Mitchell said. "We'll be getting the Hurricanes together this summer to for some tough tournaments so we definitely look to be better next year.

"They are just a joy to coach. Everyone wants to get better and everyone is dedicated to get there."


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