With six returning starters and some promising newcomers joining the program, the Roseburg High softball team believes it’s capable of making a postseason run this spring.
“We’re definitely excited about everyone we have on the varsity team this year,” senior catcher Samie Bergmann said. “We’re expecting to go far ... hopefully take first in league and go far in the playoffs. We have the team to do it.”
“I think we’re going to be very successful,” added senior pitcher Mady Blevins. “The chemistry is a lot better this year. Everybody has their own strengths and it’s all going to come together as one. If we keep practicing hard and give 110 percent we’re going to go farther.”
Roseburg tied for third in the Southwest Conference and won 17 games last year, losing to eventual state runner-up Clackamas in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.
Roseburg last won the conference title in 2008 under former coach Tony Campos.
“The (seniors’) expectations are high,” said Brad Deaver, who is in his third year as Roseburg’s head coach. “They know this is their last year of (prep) softball and want to make a deep run in the playoffs. The difference this year is we have some depth.”
Bergmann, Blevins, senior second baseman Miranda Carlyle and senior third baseman Jordan Gibson are all three-year varsity letter-winners and have been in the lineup since they were freshmen.
The other returning starters are junior outfielders Ericka Allen and Brittany Glasser.
Gibson and Allen were all-SWC first-team selections last year, while Bergmann and Blevins were second-team picks. Allen, who led the team in hitting last year, made third-team all-state.
“It starts with the foundation (the seniors),” Deaver said. “They provide great leadership and are setting examples for the younger girls. We have a pretty good group of freshmen coming in.”
The Tribe will be strong up the middle with Bergmann behind the plate, Blevins in the circle, sophomore Jazmyn Murphy at shortstop, Carlyle at second base and Allen in center field. Blevins won 17 games as a junior.
Murphy is a transfer from Forest Grove. Carlyle is moving from shortstop to second, where she played as a freshman.
“I think Jazz will do very well at shortstop,” Blevins said. “I’m very comfortable with her there.”
Deaver feels the Indians will also be solid at the infield corners with the Gibson sisters — Jordan at third and Kami, a freshman, at first. Kami Gibson will also be a backup pitcher.
Glasser was the starting leftfielder in the opener and freshman Stephanie Blix was in right field.
Others who could contribute throughout the season are junior Lydia Sand, sophomores Haylee Schulze, Eliana Bruton and Lydia Griffin, and freshmen Shyla Mead, Olivia Dedmon and Nevaeh Williams.
The weather has been the biggest detriment to the team so far. The Tribe has yet to practice outside at Stewart Park.
Roseburg opened the season on Monday on the road with a 6-2 nonconference loss to McNary. The Indians had five hits and four errors in the contest.
“We didn’t see live hitting or pitching (until Monday),” Bergmann said. “We hit the ball, but just didn’t square it up. And our defense was shaky the first time on the field.”
“All the things we struggled with yesterday (at McNary) is stuff we haven’t been able to work on yet due to the weather,” Deaver said.
Roseburg is scheduled to resume nonconference play Wednesday in Beaverton against Sunset and visits Tualatin on Friday. Their home opener is tentatively set for Monday against Westview.
Conference play doesn’t begin until April 6, when the Tribe travels to defending SWC champion North Medford for a doubleheader. The Black Tornado advanced to the state semifinals last year.
“We’ll be in the (title) mix,” Deaver said. “It’ll be a four-horse race with us, Sheldon, North Medford and Grants Pass. We’re all capable of winning the conference, but we just have to find a way to win those close games instead of giving up a few of those.”