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Trojan softball team seeking state playoffs

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Kennedy junior Hannah Kloft moves across the infield to shortstop this season after spending last year as the Trojans' starting second baseman.After a disappointing end to the 2013 season, the Kennedy softball team has one goal this spring.

Playoffs.

“They’re already talking about that and making that a team goal,” said head coach Walt Simmons.

The Trojans narrowly missed the cut last year after struggling through a patch of five losses in six games toward the end of the season before finishing with a flourish of three wins. Their final victory came in a 9-8 contest in 11 innings against Regis that forged a tie for the third and final playoff spot between the Trojans and Rams.

The two teams played in a one-game playoff to determine which team would go on to state, with Regis coming out on top in a 5-4 contest that sent the Kennedy players home earlier that expected.

The Trojans are using the end of last season to fuel their playoff push this season, and the team has several factors on their side to ensure a successful run at the postseason.

For starters, the team returns all but one player from last season, a boon considering the team fielded just nine athletes a year ago.

Senior KC?Boen returns as the team’s primary starter on the pitcher’s mound.

“She’ll probably be starting with Mariah (Pranger) backing her up,” said Simmons.

In the infield, Hannah Kloft moves to shortstop, while Jenna Bochsler switches corners to play at first base after playing at third in 2013. Bochsler is making the move to replace Michelle McKay, Kennedy’s lone senior to graduate last season.

Unlike last season, the Trojans are not completely devoid of depth. The team has several freshman coming out to play this spring, as well as a couple foreign exchange students in Barbara Ducachet and Alegra Popper. While the two aren’t very familiar with softball, Simmons is pleased to see them playing and enjoying the experience with the team.

“I think they’re out to enjoy and take in the team sport and be part of the team, but they’re out there working every day,” he said.

Kennedy’s playoff chances also improve thanks to the rotating playoff berths at the 2A level that gives Special District 3 a total of four state qualifying teams at the end of the season. While teams like Western Mennonite and Regis represent difficult hurdles to clear on the way to the playoffs, the conference has some weaker teams that will allow the Trojans to build up a cache of wins toward the end of the season.

“From my understanding, it’s going to be a challenge for teams like Waldport, Toledo, who is in our league for one year,” said Simmons. “And Perrydale - they’re all struggling with numbers.”

Kennedy was scheduled to open the season Monday against Colton before hosting Gervais Thursday. The Trojans’ first road game is at Amity on Monday.



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