The Battle Ground softball team continued its legacy of success during the 2021 season, with no signs of slowing down for next year.
The shortened season, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ran from late April to the first week of June. Battle Ground players made the most out of their 16 games, ending the season with a 16-0 record.
Head coach Jeremy Barr said if Washington schools could have competed in state tournaments this year, the team would’ve done very well.
“It was heartbreaking because we knew what a special team we had and those kids worked their tails off,” Barr said.
Former head coach Arielle Wiser, a four-year starter at Battle Ground High School, moved on to play for four years at Portland State University. She coached the Battle Ground softball team from 2014-19.
Under Wiser’s leadership, the team qualified for the Class 4A tournament four times.
“Wiser took all of her ability, love and passion for the game, came in and built just a fantastic culture at Battle Ground,” Barr said.
Barr was set to replace Wiser as the head coach in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a canceled season.
“My job was to not mess up all the great things that (Wiser) had done,” he said.
Barr was first introduced to coaching when his daughter started on a T-ball team. T-ball turned into pee-wee softball, which eventually turned into Barr helping as the assistant for the Battle Ground High School team.
Barr said as the team ended the 2021 season with an undefeated record, it’s safe to say the team still has momentum.
Battle Ground added another new coaching staff member, Baron Beckner, who brings 15 years of experience coaching high school football.
“I didn’t really know what I was going to be getting into, but it was definitely fun,” Beckner said.
He said he was constantly impressed by the players on the team.
Battle Ground would beat opposing teams by double-digits, but Beckner witnessed the most character-building during the team’s first game against Union High School from Camas.
Battle Ground struggled to get any hits throughout the first six innings of the game. A few players pulled through and landed some base hits, but then a RBI allowed for extra innings. A 4-1 win was secured for Battle Ground.
“The game proved they believed that they were always going to win. It was the confidence they had and the belief in the team, the belief in each other,” Beckner said.
As far as scoring goes, the team consistently brought runners home. Barr said within the 16-game season, players scored 94 runs while under the pressure of two outs. Battle Ground also scored about 70 runs with two outs and no other team members on base.
“When you have three phenomenal pitchers, and all three of them could swing the bat, it makes it really easy for a coach and for them to have success,” Barr said.
The team brought in 23 runs for Battle Ground’s highest-scoring game, resulting in a 23-0 win against Evergreen High School in Vancouver.
Barr said the team’s job is far from over.
With the loss of four seniors, the underclassmen players will need to step up to take their place, he said. Two of the three pitchers will make a return.
The goal every year is to have a chance at postseason play. With most of the team participating in summer softball teams, their skills will stay sharp, he said.
“They are all great kids and great leaders in their own way,” Barr said.