Wallace leaves it all on the field

Itemizer-Observer Softball 2018 Player of the Year

Wallace was also selected as Player of the Year for the 2018 All-Conference team.

Photo by Jennifer Biberston
Wallace was also selected as Player of the Year for the 2018 All-Conference team.

DALLAS — With 16 home runs under her belt for the season, Lauren Wallace can finish off her senior year — and last softball season with the Dragons — knowing she played her best.

“It feels really good,” she said. “All my hard work has paid off.”

But it wasn’t just a singular effort. Wallace is quick to acknowledge her team as one of the reasons why she’s had success on the field.

“I mean, you can’t do anything without a good team behind you,” she said.

Since last season, Wallace said she can see the progress from all the work she’s put onto the field.

“I think as a whole, I’ve been a lot more consistent with my hitting,” Wallace said. “This year I’ve had about 16 home runs, whereas last year I compared to seven, I believe, so my batting has improved, and that’s the biggest thing that shows when I’m playing.”

Wallace has been on the softball team for only two years, but she immediately felt welcomed by the team when she moved to Dallas from Washington and now, she considers the girls her family.

“She is a great kid and great student,” head coach Brandi Jackson said. “She has been a great addition to our program over the last two years, and she will be hard to replace offensively and defensively.”

Before she graduates, Wallace will receive letters from her teammates, and that, she said, will be an emotional time.

“I’m gonna miss them a lot,” she said, “and I think it’s finally setting in, like, oh wow I’m graduating in a couple weeks. These upcoming two weeks are the last couple weeks of my high school career and I wanna be able to make a big impact and finish the season out strong.”

As they prepared for playoffs, the team’s competition amped up — in the form of teams that they haven’t played before.

“When it comes to playoffs, you don’t see a bunch of the people that you’ve seen the entire season, they’re usually new teams,” Wallace said, “so that definitely affects how we play, because we’re not used to the same pitchers or the same hitters, so we can’t prepare how we usually can. We just have to come with the same mindset. I’m just hoping we are able to understand that these are teams we haven’t played before and no matter their wins and losses we still have to come out with intensity and play our game.”

The team has gone undefeated until May 14, when the Dragons lost, 8-4, against Grants Pass in their last non-league game of the regular season.

“I think it’s just because we weren’t used to that competition,” Wallace said. “It was just sort of a wakeup call. No matter what, people are going to be able to contest with us, and that’s a huge thing and I don’t think that we were able to really recognize that this season. We don’t want to get big headed or cocky, but just confident, and I hope we are able to establish that going into play offs.”

Wallace has signed on with Pacific, in Forest Grove, to play softball and study psychology next year. Leaving the team behind will be anything but easy, and the impact she had on the team can be felt by her teammates.

“I love her,” pitcher Kaelynn Simmons said. “She’s really positive and good, too, and I can always count on her in pressure situations, especially hitting wise.”

Sydney Jordan echoed Simmons by saying, “She’s really funny, she’s good and hardworking and she’s a good person to be around. We push together to be our best.”

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