It will be a Logger vs. Logger battle for the title this year in Northwest League softball.
With co-league champion Gaston possibly out of the picture, last year’s other league champ — Knappa — may find itself locked in a battle with Vernonia for this year’s title.
“Gaston lost a lot,” including pitcher Charity Hall, said Knappa coach James Nichols, who wasn’t too sad to see Hall move on. “Honestly, I think it will be between Vernonia and us. They’ve got Jordan Walters and Joyce Everett back, and Jordan’s younger sister (freshman Brooklynn Walters), who I think will be pretty good.”
Joining the Northwest League this year are Perrydale, Portland Christian and St. Paul, which pushes the league schedule to 21 games. Delphian is no longer in the league.
In the six-team NWL last year, Knappa and Gaston were the only teams with winning overall records. The Loggers finished the league season with three wins over Delphian (12-0, 20-0 and 23-0), then lost a first-round state playoff game at home to North Douglas, 6-4.
The Loggers did not have much time to prepare for the 2019 league season. Knappa’s doubleheader March 15 at Western Christian was cancelled, so the Loggers opened the NWL season March 19 at Perrydale.
Pitching is a large part of softball, and the Loggers have one of the best in junior Madelynn Weaver.
“Madelynn is stronger this year,” Nichols said. “We’re working with three pitchers right now. Madelynn, Emily Nicholson (Jr.) will pitch a little and Hannah Dietrichs (Fr.) is a left-hander who will be pretty good. But Madelynn is our No. 1.”
A big hole in the lineup to replace will be behind the plate, where Knappa lost Kaitlyn Truax to graduation.
Junior Sophia Carlson and sophomore Vicki Ramvick, along with junior Katie Denny are the leading candidates to replace Truax at catcher.
The Loggers also lost most of their hitting power with the graduation of Mikayla Rethati and Truax.
“We hit three home runs last year — K.K. (Truax) hit two and Mikayla had one,” Nichols said. “So we’ll be a single-hitting team this year. Not a lot of power.”
In the field, Knappa has senior Hannah Hellberg back for her fourth year at first base. Sophomore Raven Corcoran will also see action at first.
Nicholson is at second base, replacing Aiko Miller, senior Laicee Hendrickson has moved from third base to shortstop, and junior Bayle McCall will be the primary starter at third base.
In the outfield, the Loggers have Corcoran in left field (with senior Katie Patterson slated to return from a basketball injury later in the season), with Ramvick or Dietrichs in center, and possibly Weaver when she’s not pitching. Junior Katie Denny holds down the spot in right field.
Some Knappa newcomers this year include sophomore left-hander Chloe Shepard, and freshmen Rachel Ball and Dawn Beck.
Nichols is assisted by Mike Denny and Andrea Weaver.
Coach: James Nichols, 7th year
2018: 14-9 (13-2 NWL)
Playoffs: Lost state playoff vs. North Douglas, 6-4
All-league losses: Jaden Miethe, Aiko Miller, Mikayla Rethati, Kaitlyn Truax
All-league returners: Madelynn Weaver, Jr. (MVP), Sophia Carlson, Jr., Laicee Hendrickson, Sr.