EASTERN OREGON SOFTBALL TEAM YOUNG, TALENTED
By Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
The Eastern Oregon softball team may be young, but they have what it takes to make some noise in the Cascade Collegiate Conference.
"I can't ask for a better group that is dedicated and motivated," Eastern coach Anji Weissenfluh said.
The Mountaineers (19-19) ended their season at the NAIA Region I Tournament last season.
Weissenfluh said key transfers and returnees make the Mountaineers tough this season.
"They have something to prove this year," she said.
Weissenfluh said the Mountaineers' schedule is tough from here on out, but it will get better.
They had a 5-2 overall record and four-game win streak before Friday's doubleheader against Northwest Nazarene.
Returning to the Mountaineers are honorable mention All-CCC selections sophomore catcher Tonilynn Reardon and junior pitcher Kathy Bielemeier.
Reardon missed the Mountaineers' last five games because of a bout of mono.
Bielemeier will share pitching duties with returning junior Jayne-Leigh Thomas and freshman Melissa Jacobson.
"I really forsee us using all three throughout our doubleheaders," Weissenfluh said.
Bielemeir has a 3-0 record and 2.06 ERA so far.
Weissenfluh said Bielemeir has not been feeling well lately.
Returning sophomore Beth Hull takes over at first base. She is hitting .500 and homered twice this season. Her .938 slugging percentage is third in conference.
Sophomore Nicole Landstrom returns to a different position third base.
"She can hit, sometimes she lacks confidence," Weissenfluh said, but defensively she makes plays.
In the outfield is returning senior center fielder Megan Brock. Junior Adrienne Fullmer plays left field. Sophomore Nicki Schultz, sophomore transfer Cheyanne Stalwick and Bielemeier will also see time in the outfield.
"They're experienced out there," Weissenfluh said, smiling. She added they have not missed a lot of balls out there, which is good.
Fullmer has been filling in for Reardon at catcher. "She's done a phenomenal job behind the plate," Weissenfluh said.
Freshman Heather Tandberg and junior transfer Casi Reisenauer will share time between shortstop and second base.
"They're a great combination," Weissenfluh said.
Reisenauer is batting .545 in seven games with two doubles and seven RBIs.
"Casi has stepped in and given the team stability," Weissenfluh said.
Reisenauer is batting in the third spot.
"Defensively, (Reisenauer and Tandberg) have great range, great arms," Weissenfluh said. "They make solid plays for us one after another."
She said they are versatile because they hit and run out the ball.
"They were two key recruits for us," she said.
Freshman Chelsea Long played for La Grande High School last year.
Weissenfluh said Long is a "slapper" and versatile at the plate.
Freshman Sierra Russell is a back-up outfielder.
Weissenfluh said Russell has real good speed and will be one to look for in the future.
Returning sophomore Amanda Heuberger will back-up third and first base. Returning sophomore Megan Kaas will also back up first.
Weissenfluh said Heuberger and Kaas are clutch hitters.
The Mountaineers head to Southern California for the SunWest Tournament, March 24-28, hosted by Chapman University.