Clark’s Director of Athletics Charles Guthrie, had a nice surprise after hiring Mandy Hill as head coach of the softball team last fall.
“My expectation was to win one game. We’ve won seven!” he said.
The team has shown improvements this season, earning five more wins than last year.
The Penguins went 6-9 in non-conference play, giving them more wins than their 2-27 record last season.
Clark also picked up their first conference win since the 2012 season with a 6-2 score against Chemeketa.
“It was a huge win for us, but we didn’t react to it the way we wanted to,” Hill said.
Clark is on an eight game losing streak since the win and are 7-24 going into the final games of the season.
The south division is one of the most competitive leagues in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges, Hill says, but the competition only helps the team. “It’s a tough draw, but it’s only going to make us better,” Hill said.
With eight freshmen on the team and only three sophomores, the experience “will really help us next season,” said infielder Jazmyn Boyd-Clark.
Sophomore Jessica Shaw said that the team can relate to Hill better because of the experience Hill has in softball.
“I’ve been in their exact shoes,” Hill said. “I’ve been through everything they are going to go through.”
Guthrie said Hill always works with developing players to build a culture of winning.
Shaw said the work ethic has improved as well. “We get more things done quicker. There’s energy with this team.”
“A lot of the girls are just excited about practice,” Hill said. “I give them two days off and they complain about only wanting one!”
“She inspires me in a whole different way,” said freshman Jackie Jones. “She knows the game better than anyone I know.”
Other teams have taken notice of Clark’s improvements. Hill said, “We’ve had some great teams say things like ‘you’ve got the same uniforms but it’s a whole different team!’ Things like that make the season for us.”
According to Hill, her experience in softball and local ties will improve the recruiting for next season.
“We can only go up from here on out,” Hill said.
“The difference with Mandy is time commitment,” Guthrie said. “She views the position as full-time. My hope is that Mandy lands a full-time position at Clark so that she can build a softball dynasty.”