It was a reunion of sorts last Monday, June 2, as Wildcat softball stars past and present met and participated with a team of local college and high school players, during an international exhibition game against a college team from Taiwan.
Pitcher Kandis Clesson, who led Mount Si to three state tournament appearances in her four years of high school ball before graduating in 2006, joined soon-to-graduate catcher Katie Shaw and soon-to-be Wildcat senior first baseman Melissa Webster on the team. Their team was put together by local club softball coach Mark Anderton and Kandis’ father, North Bend resident Gary Clesson. While the local girls fell in the contest 2-1 to their Taiwanese opposition in the game at Hidden Valley Park in Bellevue, everyone on both teams played well and had a good time.
“It was just great getting to play with a bunch of college girls from around Washington,” said Shaw, who will be playing for the Lutes next spring at Pacific Lutheran University. “I actually got to play with one of my future teammates.”
Last Monday’s match up was the final game of a five-game swing through the Eastside for the Taiwanese team, with the whole event being put together by Anderton and Gary Clesson. This is the second year the two men have organized the event, and Gary Clesson wanted to make sure everyone got a positive experience from the game.
“It’s really all about the kids having a good time, learning a little bit about a different culture,” he said. “Between the two games, we were invited to go to Taiwan, and Mark also took a team over there and they were very gracious.”
The Taiwanese hosts treated the U.S. athletes very well, Clesson said.
“It was a great experience for them, and so we want to treat the Taiwanese kids the same way, make them remember this area and our people as very gracious, good hosts.”
The Taiwanese team went 3-2 in their schedule of games locally, facing a couple of select girls’ teams and another all-star squad.
For Webster, who went 0-2 but reached base on an error in her first at-bat, the Taiwanese pitcher proved to be tough.
“I don’t think that that was their number one pitcher, but she didn’t really have movement,” Webster said. “It was all about placement.”
Shaw had one at-bat and walked; Kandis Clesson did not get an at-bat, but pitched three innings with Shaw as her backstop, and did not give up a run.
Kandis, who will be a junior at Idaho State in 2009, is looking forward to doing this again.
“Oh, yeah, of course,” the pitcher said. “I would love to do it again next year and I hope Mark is putting something together for us.”
Following the game, local players exchanged gift baskets with the Taiwanese team and posed for a group photo with their international counterparts.