The 2022 McNary High School softball season started with uncertainty, and ended with a semifinal appearance.
A week before the start of the season, head coach Kevin Wise stepped down, and Athletic Director Scott Gragg had to begin a vastly truncated coaching search.
It would appear Gragg’s choice in Kelly Parsell was a good one. The rookie head coach led the Celtics to the semifinals of the OSAA 6A State Championship, had a 24-6 record, 12-2 in the 6A Mountain Valley Conference, and was nominated for Coach of the Year at the Salem-Keizer Beacons awards.
The expectations were just to build the program and focus on the players’ experience, Gragg said, but the success came.
The Celtics didn’t have an easy schedule at all. They traveled to the No. 1 team in the State Tigard High School early in the season and came home with a 2-0 victory.
In league play, they traveled to Bend High School to face Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year Addisen Fisher and the Lava Bears in a doubleheader. The Celtics lost both of those games, but those were the only blemishes on their conference record.
One of the biggest on-field contributors to the success was starting pitcher Lacey Vasas. Vasas was 19-4 with an ERA of 2.17. Vasas was named Softball Player of the Year at the Beacon Awards.
In the playoff run, no bat was hotter than Ali Martinez’s. Martinez had four postseason home runs, including two against North Medford High School in the second round.
Their season ended one game short of the state championship game, losing to the eventual OSAA 6A State Champion Tigard 6-3.
McNary looked dominant at times throughout the season. They had 11 double-digit wins, with five ending in only three innings. Three more games were finished off in five innings, and one in six.
Parsell and Vasas weren’t the only Celtics to receive accolades.
Hanna Ebner was named the Salem Sports and Breakfast Club’s Senior Softball Athlete of the Year. Ebner batted .384, second on the team, and had a .967 fielding percentage at first base.
Ebner is one of six Celtics that graduated this year. But McNary looks to be in good shape heading into the 2023 season, returning key pieces in Vasas, Martinez, and Ebner’s sister Heather among others.