Myrtle Creek — If we are going to talk about 3A and its depth, then we need to have a chat about the South Umpqua Lady Lancers. Whether you call it a fluke or a sign of what is to come, the ladies from Myrtle Creek have put on a heck of a four-game stretch to start 2022. Tabbed as #6 in the Preseason Coaches Poll, South Umpqua is out to prove themselves as a legit contender in 3A and they’re off to a great start towards that goal.
I don’t know about you, but I am a huge fan of pitcher’s duals and just admiring the masterful work that these young ladies put on display from the circle. Unlike most teams, the Lady Lancers boast a pair of aces that can takeover on any given night. Violet Richardson is the leader of this two-girl rotation, and alongside Tatum Kelley, these two are a force to be reckoned with. Richardson kicked off the 2022 campaign with three-hit shutout of Hidden Valley on Opening Day, then followed up with a no-hitter in a 13-0 win over Marshfield later in the week. Sandwiched between her starts, Kelley got the nod against Phoenix and notched herself a no-hitter, striking out nine en route to the achievement. To cap a great opening week, Kelley notched a second no-hitter in a row against Siuslaw, getting South Umpqua off to a perfect 4-0 start behind three no-hitters.
Even with the best pitching, you cannot win games consistently without an offense that can back you along the way. Kaydence Norton thrives in the role as the Lady Lancer leader on offense, starting the year with a slash line of .625 average with a HR and 8 RBI. The pitching ace Richardson can also hit it from the plate, demonstrating her talents in the first week with a .400 average, a HR, 5 RBI, and 3 doubles. Ashlyn Vey, Kelley, Haley Twyman have also complimented the offensive attack with a combined four doubles, one triple, and 14 RBI on the season, not to mention the ten walks they’ve drawn as well. With such a diverse group of hitting threats, South Umpqua is a problem throughout the order and any one girl can break out in any game.
The next 11 days present an interesting group of games for the Lady Lancers, as they head south to the North Medford Spring Break Invitational over Spring Break this year. They will face Willamina, Mazama, Taft, and Dayton, then come back up to Pleasant Hill to face the Billies on March 29th. At a minimum, the tests with other 3A contenders Pleasant Hill and Dayton will give a good measuring stick to how they stick up to the rest of the field. The next 11 days are the opportunity for South Umpqua to prove themselves as legit in the race for a 3A title, and the Lady Lancers are more than eager to tackle the challenge. Keep an eye on South Umpqua, they might be a team that sneaks up on unsuspecting prey this year…