Bruins’ Exline marks the spot |

Bruins’ Exline marks the spot

John Hart
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Duane Zauner flipped each of the 13 little scraps of paper his Bear River softball team turned in for captain voting and a single name kept popping up.

It was Kristen Exline’s

“Her name was on everyone’s ballot,” Zauner said of the senior second baseman. “She’s (a born leader). I wish I had 12 more just like her.”

Exline, who earned an honorable mention in last season’s All-Sierra Foothill League voting, said leadership comes from much more than just making the routine infield plays or stealing a base or two.

“My role on this team is to make sure everyone is relaxed and laid back. When we get down after a bad play or something, I try to talk it up and keep the whole team motivated,” she said.

Teammate Michelle Mathis gives her two thumbs up in that area.

“She’s always trying to pump everyone up out there. She’s always talking and it’s always positive,” Mathis said. “Without her, we wouldn’t be as together as a team. She makes us a team.”

True, Exline can motivate with a kind word here and there, but it’s the lead off hitter’s actions which add the exclamation point.

Going into Wednesday’s game with Woodcreek of Roseville, the 17-year-old Lake of the Pines resident led the team in at least five offensive categories.

Her .485 batting average, 66 at bats, 32 hits, 11 runs scored and five RBI are all tops on the team.

“When she started out on varsity as a freshman, I saw a great heart and just a total love for the game,” Zauner said. “And her skills have just gotten better and better the last couple of years. years.”

Exline, who described her style of play as competitive and intense, lets the stat sheet take care of itself. She just wants to play.

“Our team as a whole doesn’t really look at wins or losses or any stats like that. We just want to go out there to have fun and play together,” she said.

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