By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– The Stayton Lady Eagles softball team had their plates full come the seventh inning in Friday’s Oregon West Conference game versus Philomath.
Up, just three after a five-run lead early, battling through the elements of weather and faced with an offense in the Warriors that slowly crept back into contention that had some of the momentum entering the game’s final three outs.
But, that was here nor there as some strong, aggressive, defensive play limited Philomath’s bat’s to one run in Friday’s 10-8 victory over the Warriors
For Stayton (8-11, 3-6 OWC), the team who only one game in all of last year, knows how important this win is in terms of making a push for a playoff berth or play-in game.
“This win I think is going get us back into where we want to be to go (to the) postseason,” said Alexus Hemphill on the importance of the win.
“If we didn’t win this game, we wouldn’t have any chance of getting into a playoff game or a play-in game,” added Starting Freshman Pitcher Kelsie Walker. “So it was really important and we needed this win to get us back up in with everyone else.”
Sitting in a tie with Philomath for the fourth position in league, and a game and a half behind a Cascade team who’s game was rescheduled due to the weather, it was important for the Eagles to keep their heads in the game seeing at one point their lead was reduced to one at one point in the game.
“It was important to stay focus and keep our heads in the game because if we lost it then it would all fall apart,” said Walker.
Stayton came out swinging for the fences to start the game, thanks in part to Malya Ikea-Mario’s two-run double to get her team on the scoreboard in a bases loaded situation that saw the Eagles lead 5-0 by innings end.
“We did a really good job of getting our bats going, staying strong and keeping our bats going the entire game,” Walker described the importance of getting the bats going.
Ikea-Mario described the minor mental lapses of her team over the during the middle innings as something that they just needed to keep fighting through and being on their toes.
“It might’ve been a mental lapse of, ‘oh we got this in the bag’,” said Ikea-Mario. “But we need to keep fighting the whole time and thinking every single time that she pitches it’s going to be a strike. And being ready for that, being ready in the fields that every single time the ball is going to be hit to you and you need to be on your toes.”
Entering the bottom of the fifth inning, Stayton’s lead was down to one, 7-6.
The Eagles defense settled in once again, and though they allowed two runs in the final two innings, their bats kept them ahead as the throw to Ikea-Mario in a contested final out of the game, sealed the win for Stayton.
Though they pulled off the victory, Ikea-Mario knows it’s a bitter sweet victory.
“It feels good, I think we just need to keep battling,” said the senior. “Especially as we go through the team’s one more time to show them what we’re made of.”
The Lady Eagles will be back at it again Monday when they travel to Philomath to play the Warriors again with six games remaining on their schedule.
SCORE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 — T
WARRIORS 0 0 2 2 2 1 1 — 8
EAGLES 5 0 1 1 1 2 X — 10
PHOTO GALLERY (PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD)