IRRIGON – Irrigon senior softball catcher Alyssa Luna was ready for the season to get underway after the cancellation of last year’s softball. There was only one problem-the Knights were not to have a team due to lacking players.
For Luna, the solution was an easy one. She grabbed her catcher’s mask and mitt and walked over to the next field. Luna is again catching, not for the Knight softball team, but for the Irrigon baseball team.
“I have been a catcher for years,” said Luna. “I wanted to play my senior year and playing baseball was the way to do that.”
And before you ask, the answer is yes. Luna has the support of the team, the community, her parents and her boyfriend, the second baseman for the Knights.
“I was not going to commit to this unless I was an asset to the team,” said Luna. “During training week, the coaching staff sat everyone down and explained what was going on with me being on team. Everyone on the team has been great and I just feel like one of the players.”
The one surprise for Luna was the day she was announced as the starter for the Knights.
“My mouth just dropped when I was told I was starting,” she said.
For any athlete to change a sport, there is hurdles. For Luna, a few things have popped up.
“The bases are so far apart in baseball,” she explained, laughing. “I also had to relearn how to throw a ball.”
Luna has remained after practices, throwing the ball with teammate and Friday night date, Ryan Hussey. In addition, the coaches have spent extra time with her, teaching her how to throw the smaller ball.
“It was easy when I played softball as I was the only catcher,” said Luna. “In baseball, I had to fight for the position.”
As Luna stated numerous times in the discussion, the support for her has appeared from all sides.
“To be truthful, my dad cried when I told him what I wanted to do,” Luna said. “My mom really was not surprised, but excited I wanted to do something new again.”
Being on the baseball field for the Knights baseball squad has resulted in a few bumps.
“I was hit by a pitch and my elbow was black and blue for days,” said Luna.
Irrigon is now 2-1 on the season after taking down La Grande JV on Wednesday, April 21 by a score of 13-2. The Knights previously split with Mac-Hi, falling 3-14 before roaring back for a 22-11 victory. Looking ahead at the schedule, Luna has her eyes set on an upcoming double header on May 1.
“I want to play Riverside and beat them,” she said of the Pirates.
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“I know those players and I want us to win,” she said.
To Luna’s knowledge, she is the first female to play baseball for Irrigon at the varsity level. That is not to say she wants to be the last one to take the smaller ball for the Knights.
“I had some little girls come up to me after the game and say how cool it was I was playing baseball,” she said. “I hope what I am doing motivates others to try something new and unexpected. I want to show girls it is ok to play any game they want.”
After the season ends, Luna is looking towards Eastern Oregon University and the possibility to returning back to softball on the collegiate level.
“I just love to play and compete,” Luna said. “I am just grateful I was provided the opportunity to continue to play and so grateful for the community support I have received. I was not expecting so many people to offer their congratulations and help me when I decided to do this. The team, the coaches, the community, everyone has been great.”