Siuslaw Vikings softball coach Sean O'Mara, a social studies teacher at the high school, is gearing up for the 2020 season, which begins Monday, March 2.
O'Mara has coached softball, volleyball and tennis at the high school level.
With practice just over a week away and opening day Tuesday, March 17, at Sutherlin, the veteran coach submitted the following email answers to some basic questions posed by Exploding Whale Sports:
Who are some of your top returning athletes?
There are six returning varsity athletes — Nina-Grace Aaron, Elissa Hurley, Savannah Morris, Liz Garcia-Galvan, Adri Edwards and Liz Rosinbaum.
FIRST PRACTICE: Monday, March 2. FIRST GAME: Tuesday, March 17, at Sutherlin
As we haven't been able to run practice yet with the start date being March 2, which remaining athletes might make the varsity team is yet to be determined.
We will know more after assessing the skill and knowledge level of those athletes during the first two weeks of practice. I will say this, it is exciting to get Elissa Hurley back after missing last season with the knee injury from basketball. Her experience was sorely missed last season.
What season is this for you, and how has the sport and how have the athletes evolved?
I came to Siuslaw in 1995. I had coached softball for three years prior and volleyball for one year prior at Sutherlin High School. Prior to that, I coached tennis at Central High School while I was student-teaching. At Siuslaw I coached volleyball for six seasons, frosh and junior varsity teams during that run. I coached softball from the 1996 seasons through the 2004 season as the head coach starting in 1997. In that tenure, there was also various 16U and 18U ASA summer softball squads, and a Far West League championship in 2001. I took some time off from 2005 till 2009, but picked it back up in 2010 and have continued to present.
The sport has changed a great deal over that time, mostly due to safety issues and technological advances. For example, the batter's helmets now are required to have a face guard on them in order to be legal. That was a difficult change for the athletes when it first occurred. The girl's really hated their vision being obstructed, but eventually the upcoming group was fine with it because they never really knew the difference. Technology has changed the bats and balls and even the design of the catcher's helmets over the years. More recently we are witnessing the changes in a player skills that technology can make in practice with the use of bluetooth sensor input/analysis on their swing.
Any rules changes this season?
There are no major changes to the rules this season.
What do you think of playing at the same time and at the same school as baseball?
Traveling with the varsity baseball team has been good. Varsity athletes together, focusing on the game ahead, is a good thing.
What's your favorite road story? Every former athlete of yours raves about your road stories.
Road stories are a rite of passage to the varsity team in the program. It has become a softball tradition for story time to occur on a bus ride home from one of the season's longest bus trips. As to my favorite story ... it is always the next one I tell. =)
SIUSLAW VIKINGS 2020 SOFTBALL SCHEDULE
Last season: 5-16 overall, 5-10 in Sky-Em League (fourth place)
Tuesday, March 17 — at Sutherlin (DH), 3 p.m.
Friday, March 20 — Creswell, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 21 — Bandon, SHS field, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 28 — Douglas, SHS field, 4 p.m.
Monday, March 30 — at Harrisburg, 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 1 — at Pleasant Hill, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, April 7 — South Umpqua, SHS field, 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 8 — Pleasant Hill, SHS field, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, April 14 — Marist Catholic, SHS field, 5 p.m., Sky-Em League opener
Friday, April 17 — at Junction City (DH), 3 p.m.
Tuesday, April 21 — at Cottage Grove, 5 p.m.
Friday, April 24 — Elmira (DH), SHS field, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, April 28 — Marshfield, SHS field, 5 p.m.
Friday, May 1 — at Marist Catholic (DH), 3 p.m.
Tuesday, May 5 — Junction City, SHS field, 5 p.m.
Friday, May 8 — Cottage Grove (DH), SHS field, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, May 12 — at Elmira, 5 p.m.
Friday, May 15 — at Marshfield (DH), 3 p.m.
Coach: Sean O'Mara
Assistant coaches: Ashlee Cole, Jamie Hunt, Jodi O'Mara, Kasey Strenke, Kim Gibson
JV coach: Danielle Hanson
Deadline for candidates 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17.
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Team six games up with three playing dates and six games remaining.