Corbett softball looks to youth movement for success
Corbett's softball team graduated the bulk of last year's lineup, but remains hopeful of battling for a postseason spot out of the Tri-Valley Conference.
The Cardinals won their last three league games to reach the 4A qualifier games in 2018.
Guiding this year's charge from behind the plate is senior Lindsey Flegel, who keeps runners wary on the bases with her strong and accurate arm.
"She calls our pitches and is really softball smart — it's like having an extra coach," Cardinals head coach Rick Hanes said. "At the plate, she hits for a high average and can easily hit the gaps."
Sophomore Bella Morales is the only other returning full-time starter back in center field while also hitting in the heart of the order.
"She's a fantastic hitter with a ton of pop," Hanes said.
Sophomore Emma Dillard takes over the pitching duties.
"She has an easy delivery and she can bring it with a variety of pitches," Hanes said.
Juniors Sydney Smith and Dominique Schlesser fill the corners of the infield.
"We are a young and inexperienced team with fantastic attitudes — they all want to be gamers and are incredibly supportive of each other," Hanes said. "It's a very athletic team that is developing quickly."
The Cardinals have put up only five runs across their first two games — both losses — but are hopeful that aggressive base-running will open the door to home plate.
"In past years, people have gotten used to seeing a lot of the long ball from us," Hanes said. "This year we will be more based on contact and relying on our speed a bit more. We'll be freed up to run the bases."
Weather meant a delayed start for most East County schools, even a bit longer for Corbett, which had snow on its field into mid-March.
Corbett's baseball program welcomed more than 20 players this spring giving the Cardinals a full jayvee team for only the second time over this past decade.
"It's important to get them competition at the right level, rather than forcing players up to varsity," Corbett coach Josh Delafield said. "They are having fun playing the game, and that's a great start."
This year's varsity lineup is led by a trio of senior pitchers in Preston Horvath, Wyatt Jones and Cameron Johnsen — each of which tossed complete games during an early-season tournament in Seaside.
"They use a lot of change of speed and pace themselves through it, realizing that they are running a game," Delafield said.
When not on the bump, Horvath anchors the infield at shortstop, while Jones gives Delafield a player that he can move where most needed.
"He's my chess piece out there," Delafeild said. "Preston has a cannon for an arm when he gets to the ball."
The Cardinals were the second-lowest scoring team in 4A last season, but hope that turns around behind some contact hitters this year with sophomore Spencer Arnold in the lead-off spot.
"He's not afraid to swing at a first pitch if he sees one he likes, and he has speed," Delafield said.
Corbett's high-water mark early this season came with a four-run output in a loss to Hoquiam, Wash., at a Seaside tournament.
"We need to get some timely hits. We're making contact, but we aren't getting balls to drop. It's like the baseball gods are shoving them into people's gloves," Delafield said. "I'm down at third base with a guy right in front of me, and we're not able to get him that last 90 feet."
This preview appears in our Tuesday, March 26, print edition.
2019 TRI-VALLEY SCHEDULE
April 5 vs. Madras, 4:30
April 8 @ Madras, 4:30
April 10 vs. Gladstone, 4:30
April 12 @ Gladstone, 6
April 15 @ Molalla, 6:30
April 17 vs. Molalla, 4:30
April 19 vs. Estacada, 4:30
April 22 @ Estacada, 5
April 24 @ North Marion, 4:30
April 26 vs. North Marion, 4:30
April 29 vs. Madras, 4:30
May 1 vs. Gladstone, 4:30
May 3 @ Molalla, 6:30
May 7 vs. Estacada, 4:30
May 9 @ North Marion, 4:30
* sites reversed for softball