By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– The North Marion softball team had a ton of big shoes to fill entering this season with names like Mica Harrington, Tori Lewis, Kelsie Henry and Corina Curths to name a few of the big names that the Lady Huskies had to fill entering 2017.
Returners like Ally Umbenhower and Hannah Kinniburgh stepped into the circle as a one-two punch pitching as other names on the team like Samantha Baylie too try to help turn a growing pain that this preseason has been into something positive come Oregon West Conference time Wednesday when Newport comes to town.
Baylie and Umbenhower were starters on last years team that went 17-10 overall and 10-5 in OWC-play as they see this team progress to this point.
“I feel like at the beginning of the year it was pretty rough because most of our seniors had left,” starts Baylie who assumes her position in Center Field from last year as a freshman. “And so we have to rebuild ourselves and figure out who played what position and who’s backing up and who’s going to fill-in with. It’s been different that’s for sure.”
“It’s been a little hard,” adds Umbenhower, who moved from third base to shortstop this year. “But all of us have already grown tremendously over the season. There’s been already so much improvement since our first game, we’re starting to have more confidence in ourselves and then in each other and trust each other more.”
Entering their last game versus Estacada a week ago, North Marion scored their first run of the season when they scored five and the question becomes how will they build from that a week later when they host Valley Catholic in their final tune-up game before league?
They came out firing versus the Valiants as they built a 6-0 lead entering the third inning as the bats of the Lady Huskies exploded for a five-run second inning.
And though a minor hiccup in the third allowed Valley Catholic to get back into the game, North Marion answered back and added on to a 6-5 lead to make it 8-5 soon enough as the Huskie defense found a rhythm again in the fourth that was capped by a nice doubleplay by Kyia Brooks to end the inning.
“Oh it was great,” said Baylie who had three hits in the game. “Fantastic getting the outs, making plays, getting double plays here and there and then rattling bats when we needed to.”
But, the bats went cold as the Valiants valiantly fought into a lead as they eventually built a 14-9 lead entering the bottom of the seventh.
Young yes, but North Marion didn’t throw in the towel as Brooks started the inning by getting on base and eventually scored off a pass ball that was followed by an Ally Umbenhower triple before Sonia Jimenez brought her home off a single with two outs.
And though Kinniburgh popped out after a great day batting 3-for-4; this momentum, this improvement they’ve made in four games, could go a long way with Newport coming to town Wednesday.
“Well we’ve only had four games this season, but in those four games we’ve already improve a lot and we’re just going to keep working in practice, get ready for league,” said Umbenhower, who went 2-for-3 Monday. “We got some tough competition, but nothing we can’t handle.”
The Lady Cubs finished the preseason 3-4 following a 9-0 win over Taft last Tuesday. First pitch between Newport and the Lady Huskies (0-4) is at 4:30pm at North Marion High School.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald