By Jeremy McDonald
PHILOMATH, Ore.– Entering the top of the third inning, everything seemed to be going against the Stayton Eagles softball team.
There bats were cold and their defense was driving themselves crazy as the Warriors built a 7-0 lead on the Lady Sluggers from Stayton.
“I just kept saying, ‘we need to breathe’ and I think that’s what we did and we did pretty good after that,” said Emma Heuberger on the mindset of the team at that point.
It was her and another fellow freshman in Sydney Maurer on the hill the helped change the course of fate for Stayton as the Eagles got on the board in the top of the third with a Kelsie Walker sacrifice hit.
Maurer came in for relief in the third for Walker after Philomath pushed the sophomore’s pitch count to 60 pitches in two innings of work. But the freshman in Maurer came in with the mindset as if she was the starter as she got to work.
“I just go into every game like it’s 0-0, I don’t really don’t think of the score,” said Maurer. “I just go in and going to pitch strong and I don’t care about the score when I go into it.”
Behind Maurer, the Eagles got out of the third without any further damage on the scoreboard.
That’s when things got interesting.
A walk and an error had Sarah VanHyning on second and Emily Lindamenn on first. Two batters later, Emily Campbell doubles to bring home Lindemann and Sydnee Neuharth to make it 7-3 the Warriors.
With two outs, Heuberger hits a line drive that brings in two more runs to make it 7-5 Philomath.
“That was amazing,” smiled Heuberger on the run. “I was so happy, I was ecstatic.”
Heuberger would finish with 3 RBIs on the day as Stayton rose from the dead and tied the game up at seven entering the bottom of the fourth inning.
Both sides traded runs entering the bottom of the fifth as Head Coach Jeff Silbernagel was impressed with how his team responded and got back into the game.
“After the first couple of innings, yeah we can hit the ball. I mean we just showed we can hit the ball against this team,” said Silbernagel. “The girls started to put it in play a lot and we’re very capable of doing that throughout the whole game, we just got to put a whole game together.”
Then, the dagger in the bottom of the fifth as the Warriors took the lead for good in the 10-8 victory as the Eagle defense gave their offense two good opportunities but were kept at bay by Philomath’s Carrie Lillis and crew for the Warriors to take the Oregon West Conference Opener for both teams.
For Maurer, who pitched the last four innings with three strikeouts and held the Warriors to three runs over her time in the circle, said that the effort they put forth in that game after being down so much early speaks more than wins or losses.
“It doesn’t hurt a lot, we tried our hardest,” said Maurer. “To me, it’s how we play the game, I don’t care if we win or lose, it’s how we play as a team.”
Silbernagel mentioned how excited to see how his team can duplicate those last four-, five-innings in their rematch with Philomath on Friday at home; and Silbernagel knows it starts by getting after Lillis from the first pitch.
“Just got to come out of the gate quick, we just got to get better coming out of the gate and be aggressive right at the start,” said Silbernagel. “This girl (Lillis) likes to get ahead so we got to get after her because she doesn’t like pitching from behind in the count at all.”
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald