Swinging into a new era

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New friendships and leaders have Pierce College Softball headed in the right direction

The Pierce College softball team comes into the new season with a number of new players. Leading them is a familiar face from the past: Coach Mike Nelson. His experience has helped form one of the most successful teams in program history.

Duncan Stevenson / Courtesy Photo
Coach Mike Nelson

Led by Mike Nelson, the Raiders have goals of reaching the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) tournament this year and playing for a chance at a ring following a 9-27 finish last year.

Nelson brings an approach that emphasizes the most basic parts of the game which has a trickle-down effect on other things too.

“Proficiency in the basic fundamentals leads to the game becoming easier to play,” Nelson said. “Teaching not only the how, but the why. In the long run, a better understanding of what we are doing leads to more confidence.” Confidence as a team leads to positive experiences both on and off the field and having fun as a team will also be important, Nelson said.

Duncan Stevenson / Courtesy Photo
Brittany Camp

Nelson returns to Pierce College, where he was an assistant from 2010-2012. He helped guide those teams to a 67-46 record over that span. That includes 2011, where the team tied a school record with 37 wins. Sophomore catcher Brittany Camp said the team has come together as a unit and the bond between the women is a key theme this year. Camp plans to get her general Associates in Arts degree and evaluate her options to play at the next level when the season ends.

“We honestly revolve around food,” Camp said. “We always go out to dinner and hang out with each other. We’re all really close this year and hang out even on our off days.”

Duncan Stevenson / Courtesy Photo
Michaela Hougland

Among the returners, outfielder Michaela Hougland has an opportunity to repeat as a member of the NWAC’s North All Region first team. She terrorized opposing pitchers in her freshman season with a .412 batting average and a .521 on base percentage.

Natalie Vollandt returns for her sophomore season after leading the team in innings pitched last year with 86.

Freshman utility player Riley Rivera comes to Pierce College all the way from Rathdrum, Idaho. She said the transition has not been a whole lot different but there’s more work and responsibility now.

Duncan Stevenson / Courtesy Photo
Riley Rivera

“It’s a big reality check having to move states and live on my own,” Rivera said. “You learn to take responsibility for more things.”

Rivera also said the experience has been positive so far and spoke on the transition from high school to college softball.

“There is definitely more talent so you are working with girls at a similar skill level,” Rivera said. “In high school you are working with younger girls and in college most people only have a year age gap.”

So far this season, the team holds a 3-7 record and will look to come into league action playing their best. Their next matchup is a road double header against Highline College on April 9.