Sports Zone, Springfield

Colts softball team ‘found the mix’

SPRINGFIELD – On March 26, the Thurston Colts softball team lost two games at the North Medford Spring Break Tournament and fell to 2-6 on the season. Since that day, the Colts have won six straight, allowing only 14 runs and winning those six games by a combined run margin of +68.

“It started on Saturday down at Ashland. We kind of got ourselves on track, and we changed our approach. We had some long conversations because we had been struggling with the bat,” Thurston coach Jeff Litle said. “I just challenged them all to attack the ball. It’s a night-and-day difference.”

The numbers reflect that difference. Through eight games Thurston averaged 5 runs a game, but through the past six games the Colts are averaging 13.7 runs a game. Part of that could be the competition – Thurston lost three non-league games to top-10 teams, whereas their six-game win streak has come against teams with a combined record of 5-16.

Regardless of the strength of schedule, the Colts have found a groove they were sorely missing.

“We were trying to put something together. We were starting three freshmen, and we lost (Gaby) Montes to a torn ACL during basketball,” Litle said. “Losing an all-state shortstop, that changes the way things look a lot. So we were trying to find the right pieces and putting people in the right places to make us be successful, and I think we finally found the mix.”

Thurston found the right mix last Tuesday, beating North Eugene 11-1 in 5 innings. Senior Bailey Tovey hit two two-run homers on the day, and junior pitcher Kasey Ogan threw 8 Ks and allowed only 2 hits.

“(Kasey) threw a no-hitter on Saturday, so I didn’t expect anything less. I knew she was starting to get dialed in; we kind of changed her warmup and how she’s approaching things. It’s made a big difference with her,” Litle said after the win. “When she’s on, she’s tough to hit because she’s got a lot of spin. It keeps hitters off-balance, and if her pitches are working, she’s tough to hit.”

Kasey Ogan gets a hit during Thurston’s win over North Eugene last week. Ogan had a hit and threw 8 Ks in the Game One win.

The Colts then handled North Eugene in a doubleheader on Friday, winning 10-4 and 11-4. In the 10-4 win, Tovey hit another homer and Syren Ferguson hit two home runs, and also struck out 6. In the 11-4 win, Tovey hit yet another home run and the Colts scored 7 runs in the 5th and 6th innings combined to pull away.

“(Bailey)’s had two home runs down at Ashland as well. Absolutely smashing the ball, and she came in ready and dialed in today,” Litle said. “We’re seeing the ball well right now, and the ball’s looking big to us. We just got to continue on, we can’t have any letdowns.”

With the series sweep over North Eugene, Thurston moved to 8-6 overall and 6-0 in the Midwestern League, good enough for first place. The Colts still have a tall task ahead, though, with series against Eagle Point (9-3, ranked #5) and Crater (5-5, ranked #8) still to come. Crater, Eagle Point, and Thurston – in that exact order – have been the top three teams in the Midwestern League the past two seasons.

“We got to get the monkey off our back with those two teams. I have yet to beat Crater,” Litle said. 

Litle is in his third year at the helm of Thurston, but as he mentioned, he’s 2-8 against Crater and Eagle Point despite going 32-20 overall. Thurston has also made the postseason each of the past two seasons, but has lost in the first round on the road each time. It’s part of why Litle is so hungry for a league title – it would guarantee the Colts a home playoff game.

“The goal is in front of us. It’s up to them,” Litle said.



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