PORT ANGELES — Given the record-shattering success Port Angeles second baseman Natalie Steinman produced at the plate in her career, it’s hard to picture the Roughriders’ all-time leading home run and RBI leader started off as a bunter, unsure if she’d be able to hit at the varsity level.
“Before I came to high school I was a bunter, I was a bunt and runner,” Steinman said.
She leaves as a slugger, a line-drive masher, alone atop Port Angeles’ career home run list with 32, and RBI with 195, in four seasons.
And there’s her senior year stat line: a single-season record .700 batting average, six homers and another single-season record 73 RBIs. She led the team in doubles (nine), triples (9) and runs (50) as Port Angeles went 22-4, won its fifth straight Olympic League title, second straight West Central District championship and advanced to state for the sixth straight season.
Steinman was an easy decision as Olympic League 2A Division MVP by league coaches and was an Honorable Mention All-State pick by the Washington State Softball Coaches Association. And she was a high-performing student in the classroom for the academic state champion Roughriders.
She’s also the All-Peninsula Softball MVP in voting by the sports staff of the Peninsula Daily News.
“It’s crazy,” Steinman said. “I don’t really think about the records, but I didn’t think as a freshman I would be able to hit as well as I did. I thought I was going to bunt.”
Her dad Randy doubles as Port Angeles’ head coach.
“I thought she really stepped up her batting from last year which wasn’t easy to do,” Randy Steinman said. “She became a well-rounded hitter and was able to hit to all fields. She hit less of those mammoth home runs, but she was way up in total bases, she had more triples and became more of a line drive hitter and we like to see that even more than the home runs.”
Natalie Steinman credited repetition and her dad’s nonstop quest to find out the best hitting techniques in the game.
“My dad researches day and night what the best mechanics are,” she said.
“We always talked about getting into our legs. Before I would stand straight up, but I got into a more athletic stance to use all the power in my legs and hips and that helped a lot.”
Staying at her natural position at second base also paid off as Port Angeles was able to put freshman Jada Cargo, a power hitter with a strong arm, at shortstop.
“My dad was going to have me move to shortstop, but I just love second base,” Natalie Steinman said.
“I told my dad that Jada has an arm, she needs to play in the infield and she needs to play shortstop. She has a better arm and having her there helped us out.”
Randy Steinman said having Natalie stick at second kept Port Angeles’ defense performing at a high level.
“We didn’t have to alter our bunt coverages our or back door plays,” he said.
Olympic College softball coach Chuck Stark recently called Steinman “one of the best position players to come through the Olympic League in recent years.”
Randy Steinman thought so too.
“I agree as far as her at second base, really owning second base for four years straight, knowing the ins and outs of what that position entails. I think she’s right there at the top.”
Steinman also combined sure-handedness with clumsiness in the field to make it all work.
“There are some balls that she gets to behind first base and down the foul line that a lot of second baseman would never touch. And sometimes there were some pop ups that should have been the first baseman’s to catch, but she got it.”
A perfect example of this was a district playoff game against Steilacoom in which Steinman ranged all the way over to the first base bag, stumbled over it, landed on her head, but still came away with the catch. Oh, and she also went on to hit a triple, an inside-the-park home run and drive in six RBIs in that game.
“It’s kind of like how I played basketball: I just run into things and I always end up on the floor,” Natalie Steinman said.
Both Steinman’s relished all the time they’ve been able to spend together through softball.
“It’s been amazing,” Natalie Steinman said. “Some people are like, ‘Oh, I don’t want my coach to be my dad,’ but I’ve been able to grow so much as a player and a person. He pushes me so hard to be the best that I can be and he’s the best coach all the way around, even if he is my dad. He just loves the game and loves coaching. I swear he’s on the computer day and night.”
Randy Steinman also coached his older daughter Sarah in high school.
“The nice thing about doing it is I’ve been able to spend time with both my daughters,” Randy Steinman said. “A lot of parents work full time and they don’t get to to spend that quality time with them. I’ve been able to watch them grow, not just as ballplayers, but as citizens.”
Natalie Steinman pointed to her final home run in Port Angeles’ season-ending loss to Selah at the state tournament as her favorite moment of the season.
“As a freshman I hit a homer to that same spot, to that tree in right-center, so to end my high school career like that was a good way to go out.”
All-Peninsula Softball Team
• MVP: Natalie Steinman, senior, Port Angeles — Set career records in home runs and RBIs and hit .700 with 24 extra base hits and 73 RBIs to win Olympic League MVP. Honorable mention All-State at 2B.
• Isabelle Dennis, junior, Sequim — First team All-Olympic League selection at second base for the Wolves.
• Sierra Robinson, senior, Port Angeles — Sparkplug leadoff hitter and center fielder for Riders. Scored 47 runs, hit .525. First-team All-Olympic League pick and second-team All-State selection.
• Ella Holland, junior, Port Angeles — Hit .417 with 15 RBIs and 29 runs. First-eam All-Olympic League pick in right field. Second team All-State pick.
• Erin Edwards, senior, Port Angeles — Second-team All-Olympic Leaguer at first base batted .424 and was second on Riders in RBIs with 37.
• Jada Cargo, freshman, Port Angeles — Hit .500 with four home runs and 23 RBIs at the bottom of potent Port Angeles batting order. Strong-armed shortstop made many excellent defensive plays.
• Shelby Jones, senior, Sequim — Quality pitcher and hitter was a leader for the Wolves.
• Rian Peters, soph., Forks — Second-team All-Evergreen League selection at catcher.
• Jayden Olson, soph., Forks — Second-team All-Evergreen League selection in the infield.
• Bailey Queen, senior, Forks — A second-team All-Evergreen League pick in the outfield.
• Jayla Julmist, freshman, Sequim — Second-team All-Olympic League pick as an outfielder for Wolves.
• Erin Macedo, junior, Quilcene — Catcher and high-powered hitter boosted Quilcene back to Class 1B state title game.
• Honorable Mention: Callie Hall, senior, Port Angeles; Olivia Nevaril, freshman, Port Angeles; Brennan Gray, senior, Port Angeles; Hope O’Connor, junior, Port Angeles; Bobbi Sparks, junior, Sequim; Brianna Dominguez, sophomore, Sequim; Gina Brown, freshman, Quilcene; Marissa Kieffer, freshman, Quilcene; McKenzie Kieffer, junior, Quilcene; Britney Dean, junior, Forks; Chloe Leverington, freshman, Forks.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]