During the 2017 softball season for the Blue Mountain Timberwolves, the team had plenty of offensive potential but struggled to get consistent pitching to help win games.
This year, with the top hitters from 2017 having moved on after exhausting their eligibility, pitching was expected to be the Timberwolves’ strength with freshman right-handers Teyha Ostrom and Kenzie Gonzales joining the staff following tremendous prep careers — the former at Pilot Rock and the latter at Echo/Stanfield. Except three weekends into the season, it’s been a rocky start for the pitchers — and the Timberwolves overall.
Ostrom pitched a combined eight innings on Friday as BMCC was swept by the Southwestern Oregon Lakers with 10-0 and 13-0 defeats to fall to 0-8 overall on the season. The former Pilot Rock star allowed 16 runs, only eight of which were earned, and walked eight with seven strikeouts.
On the season, Ostrom holds an earned run average of 10.82 through 21 1/3 innings pitched over four games with 20 walks and 11 strikeouts. Gonzales has had her struggles, too, with 37 earned runs allowed in 11 2/3 innings spanning three games.
It’s simply growing pains that come with the territory of making the jump from small-school prep softball to the collegiate level.
“The things they’re learning is the strike zone is a lot tighter and hitters 1 through 9 are a lot better at the college level,” BMCC coach Steve Richards said of his pitchers’ adjustments to college ball. “In high school, they could miss on a pitch to a hitter in the bottom of the order and get an out, now they miss a pitch and it’s a home run.”
Richards has seen some positive steps that each pitcher has taken, whether it be spotting pitches well for at-bats or showing some leadership on the diamond such as Ostrom did on Friday. With Gonzales unavailable to pitch the second game due to a class she had to attend, Ostrom relieved Miah Slater and threw the final three innings, battling through fatigue to make some good pitches.
“Both have a lot of leadership,” Richards said. “They’re really coming around and showing leadership on a pretty young team, which is something we need.”
Ostrom and Gonzales are not the only Timberwolves experiencing growing pains, though. There are a lot of new faces on the Timberwolves roster, with only five sophomores and nine freshmen. Six freshmen played on Friday as BMCC could manage just two hits between the two games.
“The biggest challenge is learning how to hit at this level,” Richards said. “Most kids hit in practice off the coach or the machine pretty well, but get in the game and dynamic changes. I saw swings today that I haven’t seen since fall ball, some got a lot tighter. As a hitter, you got to be confident, and we’re not there yet.”
In Game 1 on Friday, BMCC managed only three baserunners in its five at-bats, all of which came on walks. Lakers (6-6) pitcher Marisa Peters struck out six Timberwolves and allowed zero hits in her five innings for the win.
Then in Game 2, the Timberwolves smacked a pair of singles from Ostrom and sophomore Tiffany Becker while Ravyn Walker and Nayda Rodriguez each drew a walk. Lakers pitcher Jessica Hernandez picked up the win after striking out nine in her five innings.
Emily Greenwood was the Lakers’ best hitter going a combined 5-for-6 with a home run, two doubles and a triple at the plate.
BMCC gets back on the diamond next Friday when it hosts Wenatchee Valley for a doubleheader. And for the next week, the Timberwolves will be back to working hard in practice, trying to grow into the talent that got them to the collegiate level.
Game 1 R H E
SWOCC 404 02 — 10 13 0
BMCC 000 00 — 0 0 1
W — M. Peters. L — T. Ostrom.
2B — A.Martinez, J. Blanton, E. Greenwood (SWOCC).
Game 2 R H E
SWOCC 156 01 — 13 8 1
BMCC 000 00 — 0 2 4
W — J. Hernandez. L — M. Slater.
2B — M. Rothwell, E. Greenwood, S. Harris (SWOCC).
3B — M. Coleman (SWOCC).
HR — E. Greenwood (SWOCC).