CG softball on the rise

When Cottage Grove softball coach Adam Dimock was digging through old OSAA archives, he found something startling: “The OSAA archives go back to 1979, Cottage Grove has never been to state in that time. I think this is big, especially if we do make it to a spot in the state playoffs,” Dimock said.

Dimock, who is a 1999 Cottage Grove High School graduate, is in his first season coaching the Lions. He most recently coached in Springfield.

“At the beginning of the year I could see girls diving for balls and put in the extra effort, I thought this could be special. A lot of the girls were passionate and wanted to be there, whereas a lot of my experience is that in softball, it is there second or even their third sport,” Dimock said.

As of the time of print, Cottage Grove has an 11-11 (5-8) record. In order to qualify for the state playoffs, you must finish ranked in the top 16 of the OSAA rankings. The Lions are sitting directly on the bubble of qualifying, at 18th in the rankings.

Cottage Grove was scheduled to play a doubleheader with Junction City last Friday that likely would have determined their fate, but the games were rained out and rescheduled for Monday (May 16) evening. The game will have taken place after The Sentinel’s press time, but regardless of the results, the Lions are on the rise.

“I’m so proud of them, I think they surpassed everybody’s expectations this year,” Dimock continued. “I saw them playing at the beginning of the year, I thought we could get some wins. I always expect us to play as good as we can, but I just didn’t know what I was getting into.”

The Lions are led by three seniors who have been around to see the highs and lows of the program.

“We’ve got a good senior core. Emma Hitt is the backbone of the team as far as leadership goes,” Dimock said. “I think she’s got the loudest voice. She gets the most out of the girls. But all the seniors do a really good job. Izabell Senters is an incredible leader. Peyton Baird plays a critical role. They all play a critical role.”

While the seniors are critical role to the team, there has also been strong support from the underclassman.

“Freshman Emily Pacheco (pitcher) has had a really good year. We’ve asked a lot considering she’s only a freshman. She’s done a really good job. She’s kind of helped us carry the flag a little bit as well in leadership,” Dimock said. “Pitching is everything in softball. If you don’t have pitching, you’re just not going to do well. We’ve been really fortunate when Emily (Pacheco) is down that Emma (Hitt) has been able to step into that role and pitched.” 

After a slow start to the season Cottage Grove bounced back in a big way, winning their next six games to go into league play at 6-3. The Lions got off to a tough start in league going 1-5 but have now won 4 of their last 7 games.

“It’s been a tough division. You’ve got this middle where it’s Elmira, Cottage Grove, and Junction City where we’ve all beat up on each other. Then you have Marist who has had dominant pitching. I think they are phenomenal,” Dimock added.

The OSAA rankings froze on Monday night. Depending on those results, the Lions season will either continue or it won’t. The Tigers have a 6-7 league record. Coach Dimock is hoping to see his team come out loose in both games against Junction City and in any potential state playoff game.

“They play their best softball when they are playing loose. They like to have fun. If they stay loose and don’t get in their heads then they we are going to beat them. Just cut down on little mistakes,” Dimock said.

Regardless of the end results of this season, the Lions softball team looks to use this year as a springboard for future success.

“I want to put Cottage Grove softball on the map. I want people to come in here and realize this isn’t a cupcake game or an easy win. If you come to Cottage Grove you better bring your A game,” Dimock said.