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Familiar sights on Union softball diamond

Aguon sets tone for Titans’ 5-1 win over Prairie and new coach Dawson

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter
Published: March 20, 2017, 10:43pm
2 Photos
Union High softball shortstop Anna Aguon.
Union High softball shortstop Anna Aguon. (Paul Valencia/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Softball fans have seen this: Anna Aguon getting on base all day, setting the tone, and leading the Union Titans to a victory.

Yes, that happened Monday in a 5-1 non-league victory over Prairie.

Just like it happened a number of times last season when Aguon was the co-player of the year for the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League.

Softball fans have also seen this: Mariah Dawson on the field at Union High School.

Wait, what? Dawson was on the field? Didn’t she graduate from Union in 2010?

Yes, Dawson was in the dugout, and she also stood near third base a lot. She is the new head coach at Prairie High School. She faced her old — scratch that — her former coach, Alex Perry.

“Now I’m coaching the team that was our rival when I was playing for Union,” Dawson said. (Prairie and Union were in the same league back then.)

“It’s really different going up against my coach instead of playing for him.”

This is the first time in Perry’s 25 years as a head coach that he has faced a former player who is now a head coach.

“Got to put on that game face, I guess,” Perry said before the game.

His Titans got the victory with a couple standout individual performances.

Aguon just keeps doing what she does, going 4 for 4 with a run scored.

And pitcher Erin Miller threw four innings to get the win plus she went 3 for 3 and drove in a run from the plate.

“I trust my technique and mechanics and just let it happen,” Aguon said. “I try not to think too much about it.”

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It is early, but Aguon is batting .750 this season with a home run. She hit .623 a year ago with 32 runs scored in 21 games.

She has to do more than just hit, though. As a senior, she is expected to be a leader. Aguon said she is embracing that role.

“I’m trying to prepare them for when the seniors leave, to be leaders of their own, to make sure they know what to do,” Aguon said.

The Titans have five seniors this season: Halee Vinyard, Madison McClelland, Kaitlin Manker, Hannah Zumwalt, and Aguon.

“I have faith,” Aguon said after declaring that she thinks Union could win the league title this season. “We will only go up from here.”

As far as Prairie, this is a transition with a new coach. Dawson is excited about her opportunity, and her team.

“They’re a great group of players. I like them a lot,” Dawson said.

Prairie, with a long, proud tradition of softball, had 40 players in tryouts this spring.

Dawson, a pitcher in high school, finished her career with more than 1,000 strikeouts. The Titans earned trophies at the state tournament in her two years with Union. She then played for Florida International, graduating there in 2014. Since then, she has been an assistant coach in the college game before moving back to Vancouver.

“I heard Prairie was looking for a head coach,” Dawson said. “I wanted to apply because that’s such a good program.”

On this day, though, her old team got the best of her new team.

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Columbian High School Sports Reporter