SPORTS PREVIEW: Four of six freshmen are starting

Wallowa Valley Cubs coach Gary Gassett is optimistic about his young squad.

The Wallowa Valley Cubs had a successful 3-2 start to their season despite never having set foot outside in practice. The Cubs opened their season with five games in a week starting with a 13-3 loss to Union on Tuesday, March 19, before picking up the slack.

The Union contest saw promise, particularly the freshman, despite the lopsided score.

Union is pretty solid,” Coach Gary Gassett said. “It was also the first time our girls faced any live pitching.”

Liz Rowley and Lexie Gassett pitched a pair of innings each. Offensively, sophomore slugger Claire Farwell went 2 for 3, providing half of the team’s hits. Rylin Kirkland was 1 for 3 and freshman Emma Bateman was 1 for 1.

“She’s (Bateman) getting pretty good,” the coach said. “The whole team looked good considering they hadn’t been outside.”

Underclassmen led the way for the Cubs during a 10-8 come-from-behind victory in the opening game of a twin bill over Pilot Rock at the Rocket Invite on Thursday, March 21. Pitcher Lexie Gassett tossed a solid game with five strikeouts while doling out five hits and only two earned runs.

On the slugging side, Farwell gave the opposing pitcher plenty of worries as she batted her way to a 3 for 4 plate performance. To add insult to injury, she also knocked in three RBIs while scoring three runs of her own.

“She’s going to do well,” Coach Gassett said. Freshman Liz Rowley went 2 for 4 and scored twice. Freshman Aysia Salim also added two hits, as did Lexie Gassett.

Vernonia met the same fate in the bottom end of the doubleheader as they fell to the Cubs, 11-3. Again, Gassett went the distance, fanning eight Vernonians while giving up only a pair of earned runs.

Freshman Rylin Kirkland went an amazing 3 for 4 with a run and a pair of RBIs while Salim again went 2 for 4 while adding two RBIs. Farwell notched her belt with a 2 for 5 performance while scoring a run and swatting a RBI.

Saturday saw the Cubbies again prevailing, this time in a 4-3 squeaker versus Lost River. Liz Rowley gave Gassett a break on the mound, compiling five strikeouts and doling out three earned runs. Farwell had the big stick, going 3 for 4 while also scoring the go-ahead run to end the game. Hardly the largest player on the squad, Farwell went to the plate with two down in the bottom of the seventh and the score tied 3-3 and smacked a tremendous triple and scored on a passed ball to secure the victory.

“She’s tearing it up,” the coach said of her performance.

The final tournament game saw the Lexie Gassett-less Cubs fall to nemesis Grant Union, 11-0. The Cubs had only two hits, both by underclassmen, with Kirkland going 1 for 2 and Ellie Collier with a 1 for 1 performance.

The Prospectors are solid,” Coach Gassett said. They’re going to be in the state playoffs.”

“We’ve got some really good freshmen,” Gasset said. “Four of six are starting, so we’ll be really good for awhile.” He noted the freshman are picking up concepts quickly and the squad is already defensively ahead of last year’s club.

“I think things are going to come together, and if the freshmen continue to learn on the fly, we’re going to be good.”

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