Erin Hento played a number of sports in her time at McNary High School, but softball was always her focus.
It landed her on the softball team for George Fox University (GFU) where she is getting a degree in sports medicine, but it was a lesson learned at McNary that has defined much of her time and approach in college sports.
“Mike Maghan (McNary’s then-athletic director) set up the Powered by Girls Club for the girls in leadership roles on the sports team. During one of our meetings he told us that as leaders, we need to be servant leaders,” said Hento, a 2010 MHS alumna.
That piece of advice has guided her to taking a back seat when it comes to simple things like lining up at the end of the line when the team goes out to eat, but it’s had bigger impacts, too.
“My goal for this last season was to be the best teammate I could be,” she said.
Hento knew she wanted to work in and around athletics even before she got to GFU. She looked into becoming a physical therapist, but didn’t like the idea of working in an office all day.
“I wanted to be out with the teams on the field and in the gyms,” she said.
Part of her studies included interning at Portland State University for the Vikings’ football team last fall.
“I got to spend the entire season with them and worked with players every day doing evaluations and taping them up. I went to every single home and away game, which I didn’t expect. We went to California, Montana, a little bit of everywhere,” Hento said.
Working at PSU solidified her choice of career and cultivated a desire to work at the college level. This fall, she’ll begin pursuing a master’s degree in movement and leisure science at the University of Idaho, and work as a graduate assistant to the physical trainers for the Vandals.
In addition to Jeff Auvinen, who was head coach of the softball team when she was a Celtic player, Hento cited the influences of former McNary administrator Bob Jones and assistant softball coach Lucy Shaw as powerful ones in her life.
“Bob was a friend, neighbor and coach for as long as I can remember, and Lucy gave me pep talks on sports and life. All of them challenged me to do my best,” she said.
Auvinen and current head coach of the Celtic softball program, Kevin Wise, both turned out to watch Hento play in her final game for GFU.
“It’s amazing to see them still giving me that kind of support,” Hento said.
The McNary High School varsity softball team needed a win over West Salem High School to help solidify its ranking in the Central Valley Conference with the state playoff tournament on the horizon.
Apparently, it wasn’t meant to be. The Titans rode an early lead in the game to a 6-5 win in an error-plagued game for the Lady Celts.
The loss means that the Celts’ final league game vs. Sprague High School Friday, May 16, will mean that much more.
“We really need to keep our focus. We can’t slack off and then expect to do well against Sprague if we don’t take McKay and North Salem seriously earlier this week,” said Celt Megan Ulrey.
Fielding errors led to two of West’s four runs in opening innings. The Titans were ahead 4-0 before a Kimi Ito double scored Kinsey McNaught in the bottom of the third inning. West responded with another pair of runs in the top of the fourth and took a 6-1 lead.
In the bottom of the frame, McNaught found a hole in center field and plated Sarah Jensen and Ulrey. In the bottom of the fifth, senior Dani Saunders scored on an Ulrey single. Ulrey scored on a double by freshman Nicole Duran to close the gap to 6-5.
“What helped is that we stayed together as a team even when we were down. When the other team was quiet, we kept our energy up,” said Celt senior Sarah Jensen.
Ulrey made it to second on a West Salem error in the seventh inning, but she ended the game stranded after a fly out.
“Every game we’ve had with them this year has been the same score,” said Ulrey. “We won the first one and they took the next two.”
McNaught went 2 for 3 on the day with a triple, a run scored and two RBIs. Ulrey went 2 for 4 with a RBI and two runs scored. McNary outhit West 13-12.
Prior to the West Salem game, the Celts chalked up their third loss to a near-perfect South Salem High School team Monday, May 4. The Saxons (11-1 in league, 19-1 overall) got things started with a two-run first inning and had a 6-0 lead before the Celts got on the board in the fourth.
Kiana Villarreal and Ulrey scored on an error by the Saxon shortstop fielding a single by Hannah Carr. South was up 11-2 in the top of the sixth when Ulrey homered scoring Villarreal.
One sign of the Keizer team’s progress was in getting more hits in each successive game against Saxon pitcher Katie Donovan.
“The day before we worked really hard on our hitting. Our approach in the box was different and we had a plan each time up to bat. The struggle was we didn’t show up defensively,” Ulrey said.
The Lady Celts had runners on first and third in the top of the seventh, but the Saxon defense stepped up and got two outs ending the game.
Villareal went 2 for 3 in the game with two runs scored.