Mink named MVP by softball team

Lacey Mink, Sweet Home’s leader in walks, stolen bases, runs scored and on-base average, was named the Huskies most valuable softball player by her teammates at an awards dessert held on May 27.

Shelbey Gillespie was named the team’s most improved player, and Becky Spencer was named most inspirational.

Bayli Riggs was named the team’s offensive player of the year based on statistics, including a .446 slugging average. She was in the top three on the team in every offensive category.

Tasha Saunders had a .968 fielding percentage and averaged 7.3 strikeouts per game she pitched, winning her the defensive player of the year based on statistics.

Coach Steve Hummer gave the Coach’s Award to Spencer, a senior player who exhibits “great character, morals and values.”

He said she is a good student and someone who will “take care of the team when a crotchety old (coach) is grouchy.”

“She is someone I’d want my daughter to grow up and be like,” Hummer said. He said he never would have picked her to start in last year’s state playoff games or to win second-team infield league honors this year.

She’s a slow runner, but her dedication and hard work show that “you can become great,” Hummer said. “She is the epitome of what I want.”

Spencer, the only senior on the team, thanked her teammates for taking her to the state playoffs this year and Hummer for “never giving up on me.” She thanked her mother for taking her to practices and games to bring her to this point.

“Hummer, there’s not a lot to say about you because you’re well, like a grandpa,” Spencer said ribbing the coach. “But your coaching makes up for it. I wish I could run faster.”

She told her teammates to listen to him because she is convinced that he will take this team to the state championship.

Hummer indicated the same thing as he recapped the season. The team met its goal of reaching state playoffs this year, and it did it with six freshmen.

That playoff game was pretty much a disaster as the Huskies were blown out by Cascade.

The game wasn’t reflective of this team, Hummer said.

But that’s not what’s important, Hummer said. “It’s how you respond to it” that’s important.

The Huskies have eight girls returning, he said, and “I really believe in the next four years this softball team is going to do great. It’s going to take a whole lot of hard work, but I’m excited about it.”

Earning their first-year letters were freshmen Ashley Cochran, Riggs, Dakota Hesperg, Saunders, Tiffanie Cuilla, Gillespie and Hailee Huenergardt and junior Laura Gourley.

Receiving second-year letters were juniors Paige Niemi and Mink and senior Spencer.

Receiving all-league honors were honorable mention catcher Gillespie, honorable mention Saunders, honorable mention infielder Mink, second-team outfield Niemi, second-team infielder Spencer and first-team pitcher Riggs.