Prairie Falcons slowpitch softball team sees success in 2023 season


Cade Barker

After not having enough players in 2022 to organize a slowpitch softball schedule, the 2023 Prairie Falcons roster has a record of 4-2 after a 13-3 win over Fort Vancouver High School on Wednesday, Oct. 4 and a 16-0 loss against Columbia River High School on Thursday, Oct. 5.

The season has had a couple of ups and downs. Last week started with a 10-0 loss to Evergreen High School.

Two weeks ago, after experiencing success early in the season, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association ranked the Falcons first overall in the state for the 2A/3A division. After the loss to Evergreen, the Falcons find themselves outside of the top 10 but still improving as a team.

“Sometimes it takes a loss to really figure out what the composite of your team is going to be, and so today was a good day to bounce back and do the things that we needed to do,” Falcons head coach Robert Haensel said Wednesday. “With this group, it’s still the little things, and everything is learning on the fly it seems.”

Haensel added the Falcons are owning their mistakes and taking care of some little things, making it easier for him to coach them on other components to the game. What Haensel saw in the 13-3 win over the Fort Vancouver Trappers included quite a few positive takeaways.

He said he liked seeing the amount of communication amongst infielders, especially pre-pitch. As well, outfielders started shifting by themselves based on if the batter was right-handed or left-handed.

“So, that would be the big takeaway, is just starting to focus in on those little things,” Haensel said.

With a young team and still a lot to learn, Haensel has had to cut into pre-game warmups with some regular work that would usually happen in practice, but playing two to three games a week has limited the number of practices.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of growth, and like I said at the beginning, we’re very young with the five freshmen,” Haensel said. “What I’ve seen most in the first-year players is just the level of confidence that is growing within them.”

Haensel added that some players told him early on that they didn’t’ really know what was going on, but now after the first five games, they were starting to feel comfortable on the field and in the batter’s box.

As of last week, at the plate, Isabella Kruse is leading all her hitters with a .750 average with 12 RBIs for Prairie in pitching, Marcella Clark has thrown a 62.33 strike percentage and has allowed her defense to gain experience with balls-in-play versus walks. Meliya Conn leads the Falcons’ slowpitch team in fielding with 15 total chances with zero errors, for a perfect fielding percentage.

The Falcons were slated to play Mountain View High School Monday, Oct. 9, but results were unavailable at publication. On Thursday, Oct. 12, Prairie will travel to Mark Morris High School in Longview for a game scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.