The softball team entered the playoffs as Western Division champions, and the players finished the season by tying for eighth place in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges with an overall record of 27-19.
The playoffs were set up in a double elimination format, and Pierce entered as the No. 8 seed of 16 teams. The Raiders lost their first playoff game on May 17 to Spokane by 10-3. They narrowly won their second and third games against Highline and Columbia Basin with scores of 5-4 and 9-8. They faced third seed Bellevue on May 18 for their final game of the season and fell 1-6.
Highlights of the games included sophomore centerfielder Kassidy Rauch leaping to stop a ninth inning homerun versus Columbia Basin, as well as two home runs by freshman players Brittanie Halquist and Ericka Hobson during the same game. Hobson had the highest batting average, .643, throughout the tournament. Rauch and Halquist were second and third in batting averages, with .500 and .429 respectively.
“It is a difficult tournament and there were many teams we had difficult battles with,” Head Coach Mark Edmonston said. “I am very happy with my team and I hope they are happy with themselves, but at the same time I hope they know it could have gone differently.”
The Raiders earned a series of accomplishments this year, including taking the Western Division Title for the sixth time in seven years. Nine players were also selected as Western Division All-Stars. Pitcher Lundon Young, infielder Jordan Steele, outfielders Brittanie Halquist and Hailey Haukeli, utility Ashley Bezdicek and designated hitter Samantha Kimble earned first team honor. Infielder Ericka Hobson and outfielders Kassidy Rauch and Kelsey Trautmann received second team honor.
“Everyone contributed and we had an amazing amount of All-Stars,” Edmonston said.
Ashley Bezdicek, Kayla Peters, Kassidy Rauch, Tessa Sams, Jordan Steele and Lundon Young were placed on the All-Academic Team, an honor reserved for those who maintain at least a 3.25 cumulative GPA, complete a minimum of 36 credits and receive recommendation from the college. Bezdicek, Peters, Sams and Young in addition earned Academic Leadership awards for achieving at least a 3.5 GPA.
“We had an excellent group of sophomores who were great people and students and supported each other,” Edmonston said. “They had respect on and off the field.”
The leaving players include Ashley Bezdicek, Hailey Haukeli, Kierston Perry, Kayla Peters, Kassidy Rauch, Tessa Sams, Jordan Steele, Kelsey Trautmann and Lunden Young, six of whom are All-Stars.
Seven of the nine sophomores are likely to continue on to a four-year university, but currently only four players have signed national letters of intent. Bezdicek, Steele and Young plan to play for William Penn University in Iowa, and Perry intends on playing for Northwest University in Washington state.
Trautmann also plans on continuing on to a four-year college, and she has been in communication with Central University. Trautmann broke her hand mid-way through the season while diving for a ball during practice, so her career must be postponed until she fully recovers from surgery.
The following five of the 14 players on this season’s roster are expected to return: Courtney Cox, Brittanie Halquist, Ericka Hobson, Michaela Heileson and Samantha Kimble.
“We had a nice mix of freshman that contributed (this season),” Edmonston said. “And the weight of the world will be put on their shoulders shortly. When we have a good fit and good chemistry then we tend to do really well. It doesn’t happen by accident or magic; we have to work at it. Those freshmen have to set the tone next year and understand it is their job to lead the way.”
Eight incoming freshman have signed national letters of intent to play for Pierce next season, and Edmonston and his coaching staff are hoping to sign an additional six players as they continue the recruiting process. They also anticipate on signing a few transfer students and adding one or two walk-on players to the roster in the fall.
“The sophomores will have to be patient with a big incoming freshman class,” Edmonston said. “It’s going to be a challenge. Hopefully by Christmas they aren’t looking at each other as freshmen and sophomores anymore but as teammates.”
Edmonston compared the Pierce softball program to a class. He said that just as one must read the syllabus and complete the homework, in softball a player must learn the system and work hard each day to improve. Edmonston has been a part of the softball program since fall 2002, and he views his time here as an advantage.
“Things happen very similarly every year,” Edmonston said, “so we know what to watch out for. The biggest thing is how we are going to do in playoffs and if we can raise our level up a few notches.”
Edmonston was named Coach of the Year in the Western Division, his third selection in six years as head coach. He leads the Pierce softball program with more than 150 total recorded wins.
“It’s not a question on if we will do well,” Edmonston said. “It is how well we will do and how far we can go.”
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