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Colburn's steady leadership, play drive Auburn Mountainview | Prep fastpitch
Delene Colburn is rock solid.
On the softball field and in the dugout, the Auburn Mountainview senior's playing and leadership skills are such stuff as programs are made on.
Next season Colburn, a three-time all-league selection at infield and pitcher, will be among six players signed to begin the University of Montana fastpitch program.
According to Lions coach Alicia Thompson, it's a role with which Colburn is already familiar.
"She's just been part of the foundation of the program," Thompson said. "In reality, it's our eighth year of the program, and she's been there for half of them. This is what she's built. It's a great legacy she leaves behind.
"She has amazing, competitive drive, that competitive spirit that gets our team going and keeps us going," Thompson added. "Whether we're down in games, up in games, she keeps the team alive in the dugout or out in the field."
Colburn began playing at age 5, following in the footsteps of older sister Deanna, who was a standout softball player at Auburn Mountainview.
"We actually played together a couple of times, but not in high school," Colburn said.
It didn't take long for Colburn's skills and leadership to make their presence felt on the field.
"I was a natural leader right away, so that kind of helped develop my attitude toward the sport right away," Colburn said.
When she was just 9, Colburn played in her first softball all-star game for Auburn Little League after setting her sights on a collegiate career.
Colburn parlayed her Little League experience into a standout club career, most recently with the Washington Ladyhawks Gold team.
By the time she turned out for the Auburn Mountainview program as a freshman, Colburn was already a highly-touted infielder.
Circumstance intervened, however, and she was asked to shoulder the pitching load for the Lions.
"I started at shortstop, then I moved to pitcher because we needed a pitcher in high school," Colburn said. "My best positions are second or third, though."
"When she goes to college, she's probably not going to throw," Thompson said. "Her coach may do that, but she's a great infielder and great outfielder. But she's made the sacrifice to throw for us. It may not be the No. 1 thing she wants to do, but she never complains, she just gets up there and throws her heart out."
Colburn said that, although she was happy to help the team any way she could, assuming the No. 1 pitcher role was difficult.
"It was hard to have to pitch every single game my freshman, sophomore and junior years," Colburn said. "It's mentally really tiring. Sometimes you're out there and the other team is just hitting and hitting and hitting. And you have no relief. So you have to just suck it up. But it builds character I guess."
And for Colburn, it's built character as sturdy as a brick house, Thompson said.
"Her maturity this year has been huge, where she's come since she was a freshman to senior year," Thompson said. "She's just really supportive of the freshman, the JV program and my sophomores and juniors. She's really encouraging, and not the snotty senior who is above everyone. I'm really impressed by how she welcomes everybody in and wants them to improve."
"I'm more vocal, but with a positive attitude towards the girls," she said. "I encourage them to come out and work hard and do their best. That's what I see my role as. My dad (Lions assistant coach Ken Colburn) always said to be positive toward others. And that's natural to me because I've put so much time toward it. So I try to coach people and encourage them."
Last year Colburn and her Auburn Mountainview teammates fought their way to the state 3A tournament, where the team went two and out.
This year the goal is go to further.
"We wanted to go to state again because it's the seniors' last year," Colburn said. "We wanted to redeem ourselves and try to go further. It was hard because we were pumped. But we were just happy we made it because it was the first time for this program in six years."
Auburn Mountainview, who finished second in the South Puget Sound League 3A with a 9-6 record, 11-7 overall, began play in the sub-district playoffs Thursday night at the Boise Creek Six-Plex in Enumclaw. Scores were unavailable at press time.