COTTAGE GROVE – Coach Adam Dimock, in his second season leading the Cottage Grove Lions’ softball program, has seen his share of ups and down this season. The Lions are 8-10, ranked 17th in Class 4A, and have a victory over ninth-ranked Marshfield earlier this season.
“We’ve got a young team. There’s some immaturity, there’s some growing that needs to be done, but we’ve got a lot of promising things going,” said Dimock, who has one senior and seven underclassmen on the team. “We’ve gotten to mold the team into the team that we want them to be, and I see a really bright future with this group.”
Sophomore Emily Pacheco is part of that bright future. She’s not doing so badly in the present, either. The standout pitcher is one of the state’s top strike-out leaders.
“In softball, pitching is everything. So when she’s on top of her game, she’s the best and we’re winning games,” Dimock said. “But she’s young, so sometimes she makes mistakes or gets flustered, and that’s normal. My hope is that she can work on the mental part of it, because the sky’s the limit for her, and I see her playing at the next level very easily.”
Most of the team’s wins have come as a result of Pacheco’s stellar pitching, while runs have been tough to find at points. Josie Hitt, a senior captain, has lived up to her last name, hitting well at times for the Lions. So has younger sister Addison Hitt, as well as freshmen Valerie Aura and Jayda Bruner.
While each player has had their moments, Dimock knows consistency is the key. And with the future, and present, so bright on the mound, it’s important for the team to get momentum on offense.
“We just need to be aggressive. We need to manufacture runs, we need to find ways to put the ball in play. That’s basically it,” Dimock said. “I think if we do that, if we put up eight runs on anybody, I feel like we can beat just about anybody. That’s just the mentality we have.”
Cottage Grove’s No. 17 ranking means a postseason berth is at play, so the mentality of competing with anybody will be tested. In Class 4A, teams ranked 9-24 compete in eight play-in games. As of now the Lions would head to Ontario for their play-in game later this month. A play-in win would be a step in the right direction for Dimock’s program.
“Last year we lost 2-1 in the play-in (to Hidden Valley). We just didn’t hit well enough in that game,” Dimock said. “Hopefully we can get the bats going, and if we can do that I think we can make it to the state playoffs.”