Softball coach takes first year in stride

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Under the leadership of new Softball Head Coach Liz Yandall, the Lady Boxers finished their season tied with Linfield College for the second seat in the Northwest Conference standings. The success for the team didn’t end just with an overall standing of 29-15.  Five student-athletes were named All-Northwest Conference.

“They are such great players each in their own way,” Yandall said about the players who were recognized.

Juniors Marissa Reichard and Rachel Roberts received two-time First Team All-NWC selections and Roberts was honored with her third All-NWC honor after being awarded second team laurels as a freshman. Juniors Jessica Hotaling and Ashley Mitchell and senior Kylee Oshiro were given Honorable Mention All-NWC honors.

While five players from Pacific received season ending honors, Yandall said the top four teams in the conference were competitively matched.

“The top four teams are all very good,” said Yandall.

This high level of competition was present at the team’s last games of the season during the NWC tournament in Spokane Wash. The Lady Boxers lost against George Fox University and Whitworth University.

“At the end of the day we left it all on the field,” said Yandall. “It’s a bunch of great teams playing each other. It just gets us more excited for next year.”

Although starting the season with a new coach could have resulted in adversity, the team took it in stride and built a strong coach-player bond.

“I loved her enthusiasm and excitement for the game,” said Hotaling, who was new to the team this season as a transfer student.

Yandall was an assistant coach with former head coach Tim Hill, which allowed her to build a solid foundation with the returning players.

“I think she did a great job keeping many of Tim’s rituals that he has coached us with,” said Oshiro. “The only major adjustment we had to make was having a JV team this year. But we embraced our bigger roster and by the end of the season, we made it a point to have every single player as a part of the varsity roster. “

Having 14 JV games this year gave many of the players a chance to hit the field as a starter instead of being a back-up player for the varsity roster.

“It’s making our program stronger,” said Yandall.

By the end of the season there were games where Yandall played 20 players, which is credited to the additional experience the team received with the JV program.

Being a new to her position, Yandall learned important lessons about leading a team.

“The biggest thing is there are a lot of pieces to the game,” said Yandall. “It’s tough to see the girls work as hard they do and not have the results they wanted.”

One of the principles of her coaching style is recognizing that her players are athletes and students.

“It’s important that sports go beyond college life,” said Yandall. “[I want] to be a resource beyond how to get a ground ball. We’ve always got our girls’ back which helps for relationships with them.”

Looking toward next season the coaches and players are optimistic.

“I am looking forward to just being able to get back on the field again,” said Mitchell. “I can’t wait to show the Northwest Conference what Boxer softball is capable of doing in this season to come.”


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