By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
If the Baker girls softball team stays true to form, the Bulldogs could be looking at a Greater Oregon League championship this season.
Two years ago, the Steve Bachman-coached Bulldogs made their first trip to the Class 3A state playoffs. Last year, the Bulldogs (16-12 overall) tied Ontario for second place in the GOL and returned to the Class 3A playoffs before falling 9-4 at The Dalles in the opening round.
If the progression continues, Bachman and his players should be making reservations for post season play around Memorial Day Weekend once again.
We have a good core back. I think were going to match up with everybody in the league, Bachman said.
Bachmans optimism is based on the number of quality returning players hell have taking the field this season. The Bulldogs have six returning seniors, and a junior pitcher who saw extensive action a year ago.
Leading that group is center fielder Jamey Parks, a two-time first-team all-GOL player.
Three other first-team picks anchor the Bulldogs infield. Nicole Landstrom will be at third base, Ashely Rino at second, and Beth Hull at first.
Katie Kuchenbecker, a second-team GOL pick, will move from right to left field this year. Chase Shira, the other returning senior, is penciled in at right. She played there part time last season.
Anchoring the Bulldogs pitching staff will be junior Megan Curtis. She saw action both with the varsity and junior varsity last season.
Three newcomers fill out the remaining varsity slots.
Junior Savannah Newman will take over at shortstop. Sophomore Lacey Barker will join Curtis on the pitching staff. Ashley Craig, another sophomore, will handle the catching chores.
I like our chances, Bachman said. Weve had to shuffle a couple of positions in the middle infield and at catcher, but I think our defense will be strong.
Bachman said he also has high hopes for the Baker bats.
I like our hitters, he said. We have some speed, and we have people who can go from both sides of the plate.
Looking at the competition, Bachman said Riverside, last years league champion, has a good freshman pitcher to help the Pirate staff. And Ontario returns a top pitcher.
He said he looks for those teams, along with Mac-Hi and possibly La Grande to contend for the GOLs three state berths.
Bakers season opener scheduled Saturday at the Baker Sports Complex against Walla Walla was cancelled Monday.
Baker athletic director John Birkmaier said Walla Walla officials called him and said they wouldnt have enough players to field two teams against Bakers varsity and junior varsity.
Baker first games now will be March 24 against Centennial at Boise.