Culture shift leads to Hockinson softball’s improved season


The Hockinson Hawks softball team qualified for the pigtail round of the 2A District Four Tournament after a 7-9 league record, an improvement from their 3-11 record in 2023.

The Hawks lost 18-0 to Rochester High School, Tuesday, May 14, ending their season, but the team was proud of its efforts.

“Just from last year to this year, the culture shift to what our coaching staff put in place and then a bunch of young players and to where they were last year to where they were this year and where they finished this year to get into the tournament was leaps and bounds of what we’re looking for,” Hawks head coach Mike Steuben said. “Their skill sets obviously went up, but the whole thing here is the culture and believing in each other and the coaching staff had their backs, and then once you do that — earn their trust — you pretty much roll regardless of the score of what happens.”

The Hawks roster only featured two seniors, Tahlinna Kerr and Annabelle Morris, who provided leadership for the young squad.

“I’ve had them for four years … from where they started to where they learned to be leaders because there’s 100 different ways to be leaders, and they led this team.” Steuben said. “But to see them play their last game, it hurts because they love this game, but at the end of the day, they left it on the field before they exited the field.”

The young varsity roster featured four freshmen, seven sophomores and four juniors. Steuben is excited for next season’s prospects of building on the program’s recent successes.

“Every year we get better. I expect that we’ll be in a better place next year with skill set players and the whole culture. It’s all about the culture,” Steuben. “Once you’ve got that, all you do is add to it.”

Steuben said his favorite moment from this season was when his players started believing in themselves, about halfway through the season.

“That’s when we turned the corner and made the tournament once they figured that out and trusted each other and actually realized you’re not an individual, you’re playing for the person to the left and to the right of you,” he said. “Once that got figured out, that’s when we started winning ball games, and we did what we had to do to get to the tournament. [We had] no huge expectations getting to the tournament, but getting here was a huge accomplishment for Hockinson.”