Tough league, but Lady Bruins might just sneak in
Duane Zauner knows firsthand just how rough life in the Sierra Foothill League is.
The Bear River head softball coach was in the dugout when his squad played five extra innings last season, including a 12-inning league opening loss at Placer of Auburn, en route to a 6-8 record and fourth-place overall finish.
“This league is very, very tough. The last three years Del Oro and Oakmont have gone one and two, and I think they’re the favorites again this year,” Zauner said. “We have to find a way to somehow knock them off and find a way into the playoffs.”
The Lady Bruins take their first step toward postseason play when Placer hits town at 3:30 p.m. today.
Bear River lost big-hitting first baseman Addie Meyers and starting pitcher Laurie Goodnight to graduation, but still has plenty of experience to fall back on.
Zauner has the services of a four-year starter at second base and leadoff hitter in Kristen Exline.
“She’s just done a superb job the last four years for me. She plays hard and with a lot of energy. She’s a motivator. She’s a true team leader,” Zauner said.
Defensively, the Lady Bruins are solid.
Christina Guerland and Cassie Smith, who just hung up their hightops after a three-month basketball season, along with Sara Lauer, Michelle Mathis, Candice Wermes and Alyssa Brandfass, will battle it out for the six infield positions.
Zauner has Tiffany Klopfer, Lindsey Berkowitz and Kristen Lawton penciled in in the outfield, but he looks to Brooke Meyers and Kristen Lawton to push for playing time.
“One of the biggest things about this team is its flexibility. I only have only one or two players who can only play at one spot,” Zauner said.
Bear River will also have three bona fide starters on the mound.
Lindsey Berkowitz, Ashley Pruess and Kelly Cleveland will have a chance at the No. 1 spot.
“This is the first time I’ve ever had that. So we can go to tournaments and play four or five games and still be pretty strong from the mound,” Zauner said.
At the plate, Zauner has Guerland, who hit .375 last season, at the head of the class.
“It’s going to be hard to replace Addie Meyers’ .440 batting average. Laurie also did a pretty good job for us at the plate last season, but other than them, I have everyone back,” he said.
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As far as experts go, The Union’s “experts” have not exactly lived up to the billing so far this season.