Last season veteran Silverton softball coach Ralph Cortez sent out one of the younger squads in the state. The Foxes featured only four seniors on the roster and included a cadre of talented freshmen.
As one might expect, Silverton took its lumps early, at one point losing four consecutive Mid-Willamette Conference games. But the team gelled, closed on a 9-2 run and advanced to the Class 5A quarterfinals by stunning No. 4 Crater in Central Point before falling to perennial league power Dallas. The Foxes were fourth in the league and finished 18-10 overall.
After that Dallas game, a 3-1 Dragons win, Cortez told Our Town: “I am not disappointed with them at all. We’ve got a good group coming back … we’re going to be good for years.”
How right he was. The Foxes, who still have a nice blend of youth and veterans, were 8-1 at Our Town’s presstime, ranked third in Class 5A, and 2-0 in the early going in the MWC, which sports five teams in the top 11, including No. 1 Dallas.
Standout pitcher McKenzee Petersen and slugging catcher Braezen Henderson are back to form a solid battery. Henderson hit 12 home runs a year ago and rarely lets a ball get behind her.
The infield includes the lone 2023 senior, second baseman Morgan Stadeli, as well as strong-armed shortstop Greyson Glivinski, third-baseman Jerisha Perez and first-baseman Kate Kofstad. Hannah Houts, Brylie Parks and Paisley Rains man the outfield spots, with Jordan Markham, Hailey Smith, Arika Rodriguez and newcomer Bella Diaz ready to fill-in.
Also toiling far from obscurity is perennial power Kennedy in Class 2A-1A. The Trojans are under veteran coach Walt Simmons, who took the team to the Class 2A-1A title in 2018, while finishing second in 2006 and 2019. Kennedy, which fell to eventual champion Lakeview in the 2022 semifinals, is off to a 3-2 start and is ranked sixth in the state. The Trojans are 2-0 in Special District 2, with their lone losses against Scio and Yamhill-Carlton, ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in Class 3A. Among the key returnees for Kennedy is senior pitcher Jenna Hopkins. The Trojans are young, with five freshmen and only three seniors.
Baseball: Kennedy won its second state title last year and returns a ton of talent from the squad that took out Umpqua Valley Christian in the title game. Kennedy is 9-0 this year and ranked No. 1. Long-time coach Kevin Moffatt scheduled aggressively, sending his squad to Arizona for a tournament while also playing at perennial Class 4A contender North Marion. One of the Arizona opponents was Oregon Class 3A power Santiam Christian.
Moffatt has a veteran lineup to challenge Special District 2 foes, including left-handed pitcher Ethan Kleinschmit, first baseman Matt Hopkins, catcher Charlie Beyer, third baseman Andrew Cuff, outfielder Brett Boen, shortstop Luke Beyer and yes, those names are familiar. That’s because they formed the core of the Kennedy football team that finished second in Class 3A and the basketball team that finished 3rd at the 2A tournament in Pendleton. At Kennedy, winning tends to breed more winning.
For Silverton and coach Easton Bennett it’s a different story. The Foxes went 15-12 and made the playoffs a year ago with a roster that included 10 seniors. Back are pitcher Carson Waples and shortstop Cade Wynn. Returning as well as are catcher Wyatt Postlewait and infielder Sawyer Enderle, both of whom saw varsity time as freshmen. The Foxes are 3-6 overall and 1-0 in the Mid-Willamette in the early going.
Alumni Watch: John Mannion, who led the Silverton football team to two semifinal slots and one runner-up finish in Class 5A, has retired from coaching. Most recently, Mannion, 55, coached at Mountainside High, where he started the program at the new school in Beaverton The Mavericks were 9-2 a year ago and made the Class 6A playoffs in Mannion’s final three years at the helm, most memorably the 2019 season when the Mavs took down top-seed Tigard 34-31 in overtime on a TD pass by Mannion’s son Brian, now playing football and baseball at Linfield. Brian served as a ball boy for the Foxes when his father coached here.
Mannion told Our Town that he hopes to get involved in mentoring and is considering putting together a newsletter on coaching. Watch this space for info on how to subscribe once the project gets rolling.
First Athlete, Too: Was pleased to see that Silverton senior Hannah Bashor took home junior first citizen at the recent community awards in Silverton. Bashor was a starter on the Foxes’ girls basketball squad that took 4th place in the Class 5A tournament in March. Bashor, at 5-foot-2 was almost always the shortest player on the court, but she corraled a team-leading six rebounds in the Foxes’ 45-35 elimination game win vs. South Albany and added four points and five rebounds in the 40-34 victory against Rex Putnam that secured fourth place. Bashor also participates in cross country and track and field for the Foxes.
Running: The annual Victor Point “Run for the Hills” is set for Saturday, April 22 at the school, 1175 Victor Point Drive, SE. The community fundraiser includes a 1-mile kids race, a 5K run-walk and challenging 10K and 15K hill runs. To sign up or for more information go to http://racenorthwest.com/victor-point.