By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.— The bats of the Lady Eagles of Stayton mixed in with strong pitching and defense set up a large lead against Yamhill-Carlton Tuesday afternoon in Stayton.
The bats proved clutch down the stretch, especially behind that of Malya Ikea-Mario, who’s single in the bottom of the seventh gave the Eagles the 7-6 win in walk-off fashion to give Stayton their first Oregon West Conference win.
“I felt like we did let our guard down a little bit,” described Kelsie Walker on the end of the game. “We thought we had it in the bag and we can’t do that. We got to stay focused the whole game.
“We talk a lot to build up the energy again and make sure we fought back.”
For the opening six innings, Walker, a freshman stud on the mound for Stayton, was on mark with her pitches Tuesday.
Whenever she wasn’t striking out Yamhill-Carlton players, her defense had her back as they allowed two runs entering the seventh inning.
“It was very important to me because if I don’t come to play and I don’t pitch the strike zone as I should, then they can’t put ball into play so the other girls to do what they need to do for their job,” said Walker on her performance.
Offensively, it might’ve been the walk-up music described by Syndee Neuharth, but the bats of the Stayton Eagles roared to life Tuesday starting with a two-run shot by Emily Campbell.
“It was important,” said Campbell on her homer. “But everybody was already pumped and when I hit that home run it really got everyone going because it brought in two runs and that was really good.”
That home run sparked another run in the second inning that as the Lady Eagles built a 6-2 lead entering the Top of the seventh inning.
“We really stayed focused and actually hit the ball really well,” said Neuharth. “And Emily, when she hit the home run over the fence that really fired everybody up.”
The lead was temporary because the Tigers, down to their final out of the game, took advantage of mental lapses of Stayton’s defense and converted them into four runs before Stayton nabbed the last out of the inning.
Tied at six apiece entering the bottom of the seventh, Neuharth described how much they wanted this victory as the bases were loaded with Ikea-Mario coming to plate.
“We just had to focus and really want it, because if you want it, then you’re going to go for it,” said Neuharth.
Tiger Head Coach John Kuehnel brought in his infield close in preparation to stop a possible game-winning bunt or shallow hit, but Ikea-Mario found the right spot in shallow Right Field to bring home the game winning run.
Impressed with how his team stayed within themselves and focused, Stayton Head Coach Jeff Silbernagel knows the task ahead of continuing this momentum into Thursday’s rematch with YC in Yamhill.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” he said. “It’s going to be one of those days where it’s rainy and we’re going to have to fight. It’s important, we got to go over there and take advantage and get back to .500 in league.”
First pitch of the game is scheduled for 4:30pm in Yamhill Thursday.
Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7—T
TIGERS 1 0 1 0 0 0 4 – 6
EAGLES 0 3 1 2 0 0 1– 7
PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD