The Clatskanie Middle/High School Softball team has ended an amazing season, with an overall record of 15 wins and one loss. The team went on to capture the Final Four 3A State Tournament title.
In the following conversation, The Chief reviews the season with head coach Kevin Sprague.
The Chief: What do you believe led to such an amazing season for your team?
Kevin Sprague: This seasons success was built on the same core principles we have held for the last four years. Make the game simple and be fundamentally sound and consistent. I believe that when you build on those basic skill sets and principles and consistently preach them the kids will eventually come to understand them and you know that has happened when you hear it repeated between them and their teammates. When this happens they can relax and just play.
I have seen to many good teams trip over themselves trying to make low percentage plays on the ball or on a runner an turn singles into much bigger plays and it can snowball. This is not to say we were perfect, but we were better for longer and more often than the other teams.
The Chief: Were there moments during this season in which you had to help the team player through a particular struggle, situation, to keep them on track?
Sprague: There are always those situations during games and seasons but I do not want to expand into anything personal.
The Chief: What players on this team were the leaders and how did they help motivate the team?
Sprague: This years senior class of Kalani Ausmus, Shelby Blodgett, Kami Harrison, Kaity Sizemore, Alexis Smith and Olivia Sprague were tremendous leaders and they are a very accomplished group and that can be intimidating to younger players.
That core group each in someway helped mentor the younger players but their biggest leadership skill was probably unknown to them. For young players to see older more accomplished players go about their work and see them make mistakes in practice and games and not breakdown or act as if it is the end of the world but just get up and do it again better than the last time. To see them manage their emotions and then still succeed eventually frees up the younger player to just play and get better.
You pair up that with an unyielding want to be better and win, this years Senior class in my opinion, will be the gold standard which all future years will be measured against.
The Chief: What will the players and the coaches gain from this season that will help them throughout their lives?
Sprague: Well it is and has been my goal as a “Coach” to use softball as a tool.
Sure the immediate goal in front of you is to win softball games and if you do that consistently enough you will win titles but really you are hoping to instill basic successful habits that can be applied to any situation.
So, not just this season, but I hope all the seasons, helped them understand that success comes from consistently giving your best effort and that each day you give your best effort will result in some improvement. But more importantly is the understanding that it will not always be evident everyday that you have gotten better but you have to believe and have strong faith in yourself that thru the ups and downs of day to day life that you are on the right path.
The Chief: Feel free to add any other comments you might have.
Sprague: I want to thank the parents and all of Clatskanie for their support this year and a special Thank You to the best coaching staff you could possibly have. Jake Sizemore, Nick Smith, Teauna Hughes and McKenzie Garlock you all have contributed immeasurably to the success of this years team.
I also want to send my congratulations to Rainier for a great season, I have the utmost respect for Jim Knox, Lyle Keller, Eric Schimmel and Martha Halloran and their ability to produce high quality softball teams year in and year out.
Clatskanie won the 3A OSAA State Softball Champions in 2019 after defeating Dayton 10-5 in a thrilling matchup at the University of Oregon in Eugene. That year, Clatskanie enter the state final game with an undefeated season. Clatskanie’s 2020 softball season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the 2021 adjusted and abbreviated season opened in late April Sprague said, “We are looking forward to getting going and putting the disappointment of not playing last season behind us.”