WALLOWA Although it initially sounds like an unlikely combination of circumstances, Wallowa High School girls softball coach Tanner Shelton says, almost in one breath, that his 2012 squad of 15 girls includes 10 returnees from a year ago and that this team is predominantly sophomores.
And its true. Six players on the team are sophomores, five are freshmen, two are seniors, and one is a junior.
On Friday, March 23, the Cougars will open their season at noon in Pilot Rock. The first home game, also against Pilot Rock, will be played Friday, April 6.
Returning all-league players from a year ago include senior Baylee Shelton and junior Effi Burns. Shelton, an all-star third baseman a year ago, will be switched to shortstop this season while Burns will continue to anchor the WHS outfield from center field.
The only other upper classman on the team is senior outfielder Justine English.
Although the Cougars will miss the pitching expertise of Kuulai Delatori, who graduated off of last years team, Coach Shelton hopes to shore off that loss through the services of sophomore Madison Lindsey and three freshmen who are showing potential off of the mound.
Top hitters on the team, says Coach Shelton, will be Baylee Shelton, Effi Burns, and catcher/third baseman/outfielder Shai Allen, who is a sophomore.
Other sophomores on the team include Ashtyn Hall, Emily Spang, Madi Frye, Lilly Fiegel, and Jocelyn Tanzy.
Out for their first season for a softball program that launched in 2005 are freshmen Cheyenne Hall, Macey Frei, Taylor Harshfield, Kristyn Young, and Sally Mary Blair.
Beginning his second year of coaching the WHS program, Shelton is assisted by Rob Burns, Laura Lewis, and Kainoa Delatori.