Tualatin Softball Starts from Scratch After Canceled Season

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Through the evening at Tualatin Softball’s April 23 match-up at West Linn, Camille Schmitz (#13) struck out 11 batters in her six innings with one walk. (Henry Kaus/Tualatin Life)

Tualatin is known as a giant in Oregon high school softball. But after the COVID-19 pandemic took the 2020 spring sports season as yet another casualty, the Wolves were forced into a rebuilding season. Still, the young team is showing its teeth.

To say that the Wolves have a great record on the field would be selling them short. In their last five seasons played, they have appeared in three state championships, taking the two Class 6A titles, while also making it to the semifinals in 2017. Should last year’s season have played out, they were also a favorite to make it to finals.

But, after the softball season – along with all other spring sports – was canceled in 2020, that chance went by the wayside. Last year’s team graduated seven seniors, and only three players returned from the 2019 season.

Among this group are juniors, pitcher Camille Schmitz and second baseman Leanna Rosenbaum, along with the lone senior, Taylor Corcoran, at first base. Junior Rinoa Aiger also returns from last year’s would-be season, and the Wolves are rounded out by five freshmen and three sophomores.

“It’s been weird, definitely weird that the team has had a very big change,” Schmitz told Tualatin Life. “But just because we’re a young team, does not mean that we don’t bring it.

“We bonded so quickly, which is kind of weird and crazy considering the age differences.”

So, when the Wolves finally got their chance on the field, a rocky start was imminent beginning with a 5-0 loss to Westview. However, they quickly turned themselves around through the week. On their home field, Schmitz threw a one-hitter against Canby while striking out 12. And the following day, with visiting team Lake Oswego, Schmitz bested herself by striking out 15 in a 6-0 shutout. After the weekend, the Wolves really started rolling in the runs with a 13-0 domination at Oregon City.

This streak, however, would end with a rivalry matchup against undefeated Tigard. Currently outmatching every team in the Three Rivers League (TRL), the Tigers took down Tualatin 2-0 as Tigard junior pitcher Makenna Reid threw a no-hitter with 17 strikeouts.

That loss led them to face West Linn in their sixth game of the season on April 23. Tualatin last defeated the Lions twice in 2019, but this outcome, ultimately, would not be the same. The polish that comes with a battle-hardened team was absent.

In the bottom of the second inning, West Linn struck first. The Lions knocked a double into the left outfield fence, following it with an RBI single for an initial 1-0 lead.

Tualatin answered back in the top of the third. With freshman Ariel Chanez on first base, Schmitz bunted and was tagged out. Chanez, caught in the mix, made her way back to first. But a throwing error at second base allowed Chanez to scamper home and tie up the score.

In the fifth and sixth innings, West Linn gained a substantial 7-1 lead, mostly attributable to Tualatin fielding errors.

“I think that there were a lot of mental errors that we will definitely be working on,” Schmitz said. “Not being loud enough, calling the ball, we were not reading the ball correctly and stuff like that. But I’m not worried, we’re going to fix it.”

In the top of the seventh, the Wolves finally found a groove. With hits from Remie Strahm, Ava Jensen and Aiger, the bases were loaded as Corcoran stepped up to bat. Popping a single into the left outfield, Strahm and Jensen had their chance and ran home to ultimately finish off the game in an 8-3 loss.

Schmitz struck out 11 batters in her six innings with one walk. Corcoran went 3-7 at-bat, and Chanez, Strahm and Jensen all contributed a run each. But the loss still resulted in the Wolves falling to 3-3 (3-2 TRL) on the season. 

Two tough losses for the Wolves, and should things have played out differently, Schmitz would hope for more energy from the team.

“We had energy and that was good, but it could’ve been better,” she said. “Talking more than we did, encouraging each other more than we did and getting excited about plays that are just exciting.”

Six games down, but plenty more on the schedule, and with the team being comprised of a majority of freshmen, this team is far from seeing its end.

“We’re going to bring it and we’re going to get everything that we just didn’t do well at and we’re going to leave it all here (at West Linn),” Schmitz said. “Today was an off day, but I am very happy with the team that I have because they work hard.”