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Springville’s Grace Matus watch as the softball explodes off her bat during one of the Orioles’ nine wins during the COVID-19 shortened season.

      SPRINGVILLE - There’s yet another reason to be excited in Springville.

      That’s something that can pretty much be said for just about every Oriole sport every season on both the girls’ and boys’ sides over much of the past decade.

      But softball has been different.

      Springville has struggled to win consistently in the summer, but that softball culture is quickly changing.

      Oriole softball coach Laura Riley has worked hard trying to instill a winning attitude amongst her young and extremely talented group, and through a COVID-19 shortened summer that saw the team play just 17 games, posting a 9-8 overall record and 7-7 mark against Tri-Rivers Conference competition, Springville proved they could be a program to be reckoned with, even as soon as next season.

      “We’ve certainly shown signs that we can compete with anyone when we show up with the right mentality,” said Riley, as the Orioles knocked off state-ranked Central City early in the season, but then suffered frustrating losses against Midland and Easton Valley.

      “But some of that inconsistency just comes with being so young, and we were one of the youngest teams in the conference this season. That won’t be the case next season. We’ll have a team full of experience, and I can’t wait to see how things play out because everything we’ve been doing has been building towards improving and getting better and knowing what to do in certain situations. I know the girls will do their best to keep it going next summer.”

      In fact, the Orioles did not boast a single senior on the 2020 roster, and much like the highly successful volleyball and basketball programs at the school, softball also relied heavily on freshman and sophomores for playing time, and they all came through with outstanding performances.

      Freshman Molly Stamp topped the team with her .385 batting average and 10 RBIs while sophomore Morgan Nachazel turned in another big season drilling softballs at a .372 clip with 10 RBIs.

      Sophomore Savannah Nealman launched two home runs while hitting .346 with 10 more RBIs and 15 runs scored while Libby Moore, the crafty old veteran of the Oriole team as a mere junior, not only hit .333 with a team-best seven doubles, but was also Springville’s No. 1 pitcher working 71.2 innings posting a 6-4 overall record with a solid 3.03 earned run average and 62 strikeouts.

      Nealman (30.1 innings) and Stamp (11) also helped out in the pitching corps.

      Freshman Nia Howard gave the Springville team outstanding play defensively in center field while also hitting .326 at the plate while sophomore Grace Matus, the team’s catcher, hit .300 with 15 runs scored and a team-high 13 stolen bases.

      Freshmen Emerson Ripple and Ashlynne Zaruba also played key roles on the 2020 team while eighth grader Hannah March proved she was more than ready to make the jump to the varsity level hitting .400 this past summer.

      “There’s no doubt the future is bright for Springville softball,” Riley said. “We have a lot of young and very talented girls on this roster. We just have to keep working on our game and do the things in the off-season that we need to do to stay sharp and we should be able to keep this thing going.”

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