With most of their starters from last year returning, the Roseburg Indians believe they have the tools to challenge for the Southwest Conference softball title this spring.
The Tribe hasn’t accomplished that feat since 2008, the end of a three-year championship run under Tony Campos.
Brad Deaver, in his second season as Roseburg’s head coach, admits he’s “super excited” about the Indians. Roseburg finished 15-11 overall in 2017, tying for third in the SWC and losing to West Albany in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.
With seven starters in the field back plus a designated player, the Indians have a reason to be optimistic.
“Now that this is my second year, we’re able to move on and fine-tune things a lot quicker this year because we understand each other,” said Deaver. “We get a lot more reps in. They know what I expect, I know their strengths and our communication is better. We’re just jelling a lot better with a year under our belt.”
Roseburg opened its season Monday with a nonconference game against 5A Crater of Central Point, winning 6-1 at Stewart Park.
Heading the returnees is junior catcher Samie Bergmann, a two-time first-team all-conference selection. Bergmann, who received honorable mention all-state as a sophomore, hit .309 in conference games last year with six extra-base hits and 18 RBIs.
Junior pitcher Madysn Blevins (.340, seven extra base-hits, 16 RBIs) and senior left fielder Katie Ladd (.400, 19 runs) were second-team all-SWC picks. Blevins went the distance in the circle, going 11-7 with a 3.41 ERA. The right-hander struck out 92 and walked 29 in 117 innings.
Junior shortstop Marinda Carlyle (.333, 14 RBIs, 16 runs, seven stolen bases) received honorable mention all-conference.
Also returning are senior center fielder Maria Bacigalupo, senior right fielder Alexa Ligon, junior third baseman Jordan Gibson (.246, five extra-base hits, 18 runs) and sophomore utility/DP Brittany Glasser (.304, 16 runs, nine stolen bases). Ligon will move to second base this year.
Senior first baseman Hannah Goodin returns after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury.
“Our goal is to definitely win league,” said Ladd. “We have a lot of returning starters and have that experience going in. It’s going to come down to our effort — how much the girls want to put in and how determined we are to win.”
“I think we are (good enough to win the SWC),” added Bacigalupo. “We worked really hard in the offseason. We have a bunch of talent and work together as a family. We’re going to do really good this year if we keep working hard in practice and give 100 percent.”
The players weren’t happy about how the season ended last year, exiting the postseason early with a 7-0 defeat to West Albany.
“It’s motivation,” said Ligon. “I think we’re going to be a really strong team, considering we’re an older group of girls for the most part. Our hitting is going to be through the roof this year. We’re going to compete.”
“I’m very optimistic about this season,” Goodin said, “especially since it’s my comeback and last year. I want to go out with a bang. Everyone’s looking good and hopefully I can do my part.”
The Indians are also counting on sophomore outfielders Ericka Allen and Lydia Sand. Freshmen Haylee Schulze and Eliana Bruton will swing between the junior varsity and varsity.
Roseburg has no left-handed batters on its roster.
“We have a really good preseason schedule,” said Deaver. “We have 11 games in the first 14 days, and that’s huge. It’s a matter of beating the weather and getting those games in.”
The SWC will be competitive as usual.
North Medford is the defending conference and state champion, but head coach Mike Mayben stepped down in the offseason. Grants Pass expects to be in the title hunt after advancing to the quarterfinals. South Medford, which finished second in the conference, lost ace pitcher Pat Moore and head coach Miranda Gillaspie-Smith resigned.
“You have to watch out for North Medford, Grants Pass and Sheldon,” Deaver said. “It’s going to be a tough battle.”
Roseburg is scheduled to open SWC play on March 20 at South Eugene.