Skyhawks' coach Renae Kinghorn understands where her team stands. After a rough couple of weeks, every game counts just to get back into the Region 8 softball hunt. Salem Hills came through big when its backs were against a wall early and defeated Maple Mountain, 6-2.
"This win is huge," said Kinghorn. "It is huge because we overcame an abysmal first inning."
Indeed, Maple Mountain looked like it was in the driver's seat in the top of the first inning, when the first four batters reached base. Ellie Ashman reached on a walk. Bailey Witney reached on a throwing error. Jezni Widdison was hit by a pitch, loading the bases, when Shaniya Jacobson (1 for 3, 1 RBI) hit a single, scoring Ashman. A sacrifice fly to Skyhawk center fielder, Tiffany Madson, scored another run. It looked to be a rout early, but the Golden Eagles were stopped with two strikeouts by Skyhawk ace, Kirtlyn Bohling (10 Ks).
Maple Mountain's Carly Guyman returned the favor, striking out the first two Skyhawks in the bottom of the inning. After Kenzie Cowden walked, Annalee Castleberry flew out to center field to end the inning, and it looked like Salem Hills was facing yet another uphill climb to get back in the game.
Maple Mountain came out with intent in the top of the second inning and got two more runners on base, but two more strikeouts and a pop up to catcher Amelia Weight ended the threat.
The bottom half of the second began with another Guyman strike out. Skyhawk first baseman, Kenzie Martin, singled, giving Salem Hills some hope. With one out and a runner on first, Weight (2 for 2, 3 RBI) stepped up to the plate, trying to put the ball in play. She did better than that with a rip over the left center field fence to tie the game at 2-2.
The Skyhawks put two more runners on. Abbie Tuttle reached on a walk, then ended up on third base when Madson (2 for 3, 1 steal, 2 runs) laid down a slap, reaching safely. But that was all the Skyhawks could muster, as Guyman struck out one and popped up another batter to end the inning.
With the game tied, it was time to settle in and go to work, and Salem Hills did just that on defense, allowing just two Golden Eagles to reach base the rest of the game. Madson made a terrific diving catch of a short blooper that looked to be a single. Right fielder Alexis Oveson ran down another well hit ball for an out, and the Skyhawks retired 12 straight Maple Mountain batters while scoring regularly the rest of the way.
In the third inning, Castleberry singled, as did Oveson, just inches from putting one out of the park. Castleberry then scored after moving to third via a Martin bunt, and a single by Weight.
In the fourth, Madson led off with an infield single, followed by a single by Bohling. Madson scored on a sacrifice by Ashley Whiting.
Two more Skyhawks crossed home plate in the sixth inning. With a walk and two errors by Maple Mountain, the bases were loaded. Jacobsen fielded a hard grounder by Bohling and threw it home to get Weight on the force. Tuttle scored when McKenna Davis drew a walk with bases loaded. Madson scored on a Cowden single. And it was just too much for the Golden Eagles to overcome.
Kinghorn noted, "It's looking a little more familiar, and we are happy about that."
Troy Bohling can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.