Local players play key role for Mendocino Eagles softball

Mendocino College Athletics

By Ray Hamill — Considering the recent success that many H-DNL softball teams have been enjoying, it should come as no surprise to see a lot of local players continue to succeed at the collegiate level.

And that includes a trio of locals who made a big impact while playing for Mendocino College this past spring.

Fortuna’s Kelsie Hall, McKinleyville’s Raina Ausburn and Hoopa’s Savannah Colegrove each received all-conference recognition for the Eagles, including a first-team selection for Hall.

But that didn’t surprise Eagles head coach Doug Wingler.

“The thing about Humboldt is it’s a great area for softball, with great programs and great kids,” he said. “We’ve had great success with the kids from Humboldt and we’re always looking for good kids to come here.”

Hall had perhaps the biggest impact of the group, and she did so despite a late switch in position.

The Fortuna graduate took over at catcher and played all 39 games for the Eagles, who were 9-30 overall and 6-6 in conference.

“She didn’t originally come to us as a catcher, but due to some circumstances we put her behind the plate and she got better and better,” the coach said.

Hall had a very impressive .389 average at the plate and hit nine doubles and two home runs with 13 RBIs.

She also led the Eagles with 14 stolen bases.

“She really swung the bat well for us, especially in conference,” Wingler said of the cleanup hitter. “Her conference numbers were really, really good. She’s a great kid, a great kid to coach. We’re really happy to have her.”

Ausburn and Colegrove, meanwhile, came on strong over the second half of the season after each had to battle some injuries.

Both were named second-team all-conference.

Ausburn, who won a North Coast Section championship at McKinleyville, started 17 games in the circle and had an immediate impact when she finally got back on the field.

“When she came out it only took a couple of games to get back in the groove of things,” Wingler said. “And she ended up doing well for us in league.”

Likewise with Colegrove, who led the Hoopa Warriors to NCS crowns in 2019 and 2022 before joining the Eagles.

After coming back from her injury, she played in 20 games over the second half of the season and also had an immediate impact.

Colegrove had a team-best .421 average at the plate and drove in 17 runs, just four shy of the team leaders despite playing in just half the games.

“She swung the bat really well,” Wingler said of the third baseman, who is expected to be back in the circle next year. “Her injury didn’t allow her to pitch this spring, but I think she’ll come back 100 percent in the fall. She did a really good job at third base.”

And Wingler expects all three of the former H-DNL players on his roster to continue to improve and have a big impact on the team.

“I’m looking for big things out of all of them next year,” he said.

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