Ronda McKenzie's Westview team earned the No. 1 seed to the 6A softball playoffs this season. (Photo by Shannon Wright)
Ronda McKenzie's Westview team earned the No. 1 seed to the 6A softball playoffs this season. (Photo by Shannon Wright)

The only softball coach that Westview has ever known has stepped down.

Ronda McKenzie established the program and went 585-224 in 29 seasons at the school, winning 17 Metro League titles and a state championship in 2004. She was named Metro coach of the year 15 times.

McKenzie retired from teaching at Westview last year but decided to stick around to coach the team's nine seniors. She finished strong as the Wildcats went 27-4, earned the No. 1 seed to the 6A playoffs and reached the semifinals.

“I'm glad I did it one more year,” said McKenzie, who continued teaching as a substitute. “It just seemed like the right time to coach one more year.

"It was super fun. I really like the kids. This group was, for the most part, drama-free. I just knew it was going to be fun this season regardless of wins and losses, which it was. And then the wins just kept coming, so that made it fantastic.”

McKenzie retires at No. 3 on the state's all-time wins list. Counting her two seasons at Monroe (1991-92), she has a career record of 609-231, behind only current South Salem coach Scott McCormick (748-346 in 42 seasons) and the retired Mike Jodoin (671-314), who spent 34 of his 38 seasons at North Eugene.

Westview staged an event for McKenzie at the softball field in April, dedicating the field to her. About 30 alumni were among those in attendance.

“They wanted to travel back and support her in her journey, because she supported so many kids in their journey,” Westview athletic director Troy Christiansen said. “She is Westview softball. The impact she made on kids, it's not measurable.”

The Wildcats were hoping to send off McKenzie with another title this year but fell to Glencoe 7-2 in the semifinals.

“The end of the season is always emotional,” McKenzie said. “I've won it all, lost in the championship, lost in the semifinals. There's always something about losing in the semifinals. Getting close but not getting there, and having such a fantastic season, and at the end you kind of feel like any other team. It's not a lot of fun.”

Former Beaverton, Sunset and Valley Catholic coach Roni Illias said “the state is going to lose a very, very good coach” in McKenzie, who helped elevate the sport in Oregon.

“She deserves all the accolades people can give her,” Illias said. “She wanted to be involved because she wanted things done properly for the girls, all over the state. It wasn't just for her team, it was always a bigger picture for her.

“She's always thinking of ways to better her program and build things for her girls. I remember when she had a battle to get batting cages put up. She has great pride. She really loves the program and loves the game of softball. She's a wonderful mentor to her players.”

Westview posted the position Tuesday.

“She's not really replaceable. That's not something we're going to be able to do,” Christiansen said. “She's been active in trying to find people that want to come in and build on what she's built. We're going to find someone that can carry on that legacy.”

McKenzie graduated in 1984 from Hillsboro, where she played softball and soccer, and went on to play college softball at Oregon. She assisted college teammate Sony Schroeder at Churchill for two seasons (1989-90) before landing her first head coaching job at Monroe.

She coached Hillsboro's JV team for two seasons (1993-94) and took over as Westview's coach in 1995. Four years later, she joined Westview's faculty as a PE teacher.

McKenzie had immediate success with the Wildcats, going 17-9, 22-7, 22-6 and 27-3 in her first four seasons, taking the team to the state quarterfinals in 1996 and 1997 and the semifinals in 1998.

Much of the success, she said, had to do with establishing the Silver Bullets ASA program, with has been a consistent feeder for Westview during her tenure. Of the 15 players on this year's team, 14 played on the Silver Bullets at some point.

“I definitely had some strong ideas,” McKenzie said of building a foundation. “I knew having a summer program was important to having a strong high school team. All the kids in the Westview attendance area had an opportunity to play what was then ASA softball.”

Westview won the state title in 2004, edging Tualatin 3-2 in eight innings at Oregon State University.

“That was a very talented team,” McKenzie said. “They were kids that grew up starting in the Silver Bullets program. When you have the neighborhood kids that grew up playing and getting competitive together, that's usually what can lead to a special team.”

Westview made the state championship game two more times, falling to Tualatin 10-0 in five innings in 2015 and losing to North Medford 11-3 in 2017.

Illias said that McKenzie is a “fierce” competitor.

“She's brilliant when it comes to strategy,” Illias said. “Sometimes I would do off-the-wall things to try to catch her team off-guard. She's smart in all ways.”

McKenzie's husband, Mike McAllister, joined her on the Westview staff this season as the JVII coach. McAllister also has a coaching background, coaching small-college football and assisting in football and wrestling at Aloha.

In retirement, McKenzie plans to spend more time in outdoor recreation and travel. She has scheduled a bike-packing trip for this month, a 365-mile trek from Klamath Falls to northeast Oregon, and plans to do a 68-mile backpacking excursion in Idaho's Sawtooth Wilderness in August.

As for softball, she will serve one more year on the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association board. She also will make herself available to the next Westview coach.

“I would love to serve as a mentor to them, if they're interested,” McKenzie said. “I will definitely be their biggest fan. But I have no plans to coach. I'll want to come and watch games, watch the girls that I've coached. But I plan on doing other things.”