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After a long season, the Storm look towards the future

The Chemeketa Community College softball team faces a unique challenge in relation to most other programs. For the entirety of the program’s 20-year existence, Chemeketa has never had a softball field on campus.

Jennifer Tuatagaloa prepares for a hit during a game against Mount Hood Community College. Photo by Caleb Wolf.

The softball team currently practices and plays their games at Phillips Field at Bush Park or the softball complex at Wallace Marine Park, both of which are over five miles away. Despite this major obstacle, Head Coach Pamela Knox and her players have found a way to press forward.

“It’s all about communication and planning. We share the hitting barn with baseball. It’s like a flow, we just work around each other between the weight room, the gym, and the barn,” said Knox.

However, next season their prayers will be answered. Chemeketa is in the process of constructing a brand new multi-use softball and soccer field.

“I can’t tell you how much it has helped our recruiting. We have signed eight players. And we have six or seven walk-on players,” said Knox.

That number mimics the amount of players Chemeketa had at the start of this season, and does not include any current players who will return next season.

“That’s huge, we’re really excited,” said Knox.

This year’s Storm softball team is young, having eight freshmen with only four sophomores on the roster. However, Coach Knox is hoping those young players will create a strong foundation for the future.

“We have a core of freshmen right now that I am hoping they all come back. They’ve all improved tremendously since fall,” said Knox.

Despite the strong incoming class, the Storm will be losing a couple of super sophomores. Tau Williams is one of those players. Williams is the returning All-Conference shortstop and led the team in both home runs and RBIs, with 9 and 43 respectively, while tying fellow sophomore Brittany Ensley in hits with 55. Along with Williams, the Storm will no longer have two of their starting pitchers, Kendal Bailey and Ensley. Together Bailey and Ensley started 38 out of 40 games for the Storm. In addition to pitching, Ensley led the team in batting average at .455. Ensley is one of the rare athletes who can pitch, play the field, and hit.

“She can play anywhere,” said Knox.

The Storm finished the season with a 7-33 record. Despite a rocky season, they started to hit their stride later in the year. With the new field on the way, a strong recruiting class, and some late season momentum, the Storm are poised for a big season next year.

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