Aaron Landon has heard tales of the South Puget Sound Community College softball program’s past successes, yet all the college’s interim athletic director knows is the recent perception.
He’s looking to change the latter for good.
For the second time in four seasons SPSCC has canceled the remainder of its 2015 softball season, for what Landon described as the best interest of the student-athletes on the team, and for the responsibilities toward opponents in the Northwest Athletic Conference to “not be in a position to risk any more forfeits and to not put any more colleges in a position not to compete,” Landon said.
The college also announced fourth-year coach Shannon Stine and assistant coach Teri Hickey are no longer under coaching contracts with the college.
The Clippers’ final games played were April 3 in losses to Green River. After that came four forfeited games last week bringing its win-loss record to 0-14 after an 0-32 mark last season. Most games this spring featured nine eligible players, Landon said. Like baseball, that’s the minimum number needed to fill all nine defensive positions and a batting lineup.
The 2012 softball season was canceled after the first two games, and it’s the third time in recent years an SPSCC athletics program failed to finish a season. During the 2010-11 season, the women’s basketball team forfeited its remaining schedule with 10 games to play because ineligibility and illness had left the team with four players.
SPSCC’s softball program isn’t far removed from winning. In 2011, the season before Stine took over, the team went 22-18 and won 20 games in the former NWAACC West Region, yet the following season was canceled. In 2006, when current Olympia High coach Matt Loes headed the program, the Clippers won 40 games and set a college softball record with 127 home runs over 47 games, surpassing 126 home runs set by the University of Arizona in 2001.
Landon said Wednesday the current state of the softball program is “being addressed,” and the college isn’t throwing in the towel — the program will return in 2016, and Landon is eager to quickly turn the tides.
“This now has everyone’s attention,” he said.
Priority No. 1 is stability and fielding a competitive team, Landon said, which starts with an organized fall-ball program for this fall and a new coaching staff.
“We need to take a hard look at the good years and use the resources to figure out what was good when it was going well,” Landon said. “All the people that are counseling me on this are proven winners in terms of process and approach of building all the programs. I’m working with people that have won and that have built successful programs not just athletically, but academically.”