By Jeremy McDonald
PHILOMATH, Ore.– Entering the first week of Oregon West Conference-play with two big games versus the defending OWC-Champions in Philomath, the preseason was a solid one for a Stayton Eagles team that features one senior on their roster.
Despite what the record said, they were in all but one of their games. The only difference was a few mistakes here and there allow their opponents to stay in front come games end as they still try to find their bats on the offensive side of the game.
“Preseason, minus that one game, we were playing excellent defense and we’re pitching really well, the bats weren’t going so your going to lose one-, two-run games. That’s what’s going to happen,” said first-year Head Coach Steven Salisbury. “And that’s what happen, preseason to us outside of that one runaway.”
That runaway game came against a Valley Catholtic team that’s outscored teams 78-29 behind their senior heavy squad.
The team the Eagles faced Wednesday and Friday was too senior heavy, eight seniors to be exact on the Warriors roster, but Stayton’s defense looked solid after three innings hold a strong Philomath team to one, four and zero runs in the 5-0 game.
“These guys are a good club. Philomath is a good club, number one we need to hit the ball and we’re not hitting the ball right now,” said Salisbury on the team.
Hitting has been the Eagles kyptonite as they’ve only been able to produce 16 runs despite having some potential offensively with Brayden Neuharth and Ryan Beresford to name a few.
There’s a lot of potential on this team and out on the field, it’s just a matter of tying it all together constantly.
“We have a lot of ability, I’m excited for the potential that’s out there, a lot of ability,” said Salibury. “We just got to keep pitching, the last couple of games defense has been sloppy and that’s killed us as far as the scoreboard goes. We got to clean some things up, you can’t give teams.
“I think we gave three extra outs in one inning and gave them two in the last inning. And then when we played them Wednesday, there was one inning where gave them six outs in one inning. So your not going to win ball games where you give teams extra innings to play.”
As they battled through the off-and-on downpours in Philomath from the storm blowing through, the Warriors opened up the doors once more as they did Wednesday as they shutout the young Eagles team in five innings, 12-0.
But there’s something they can take away as they sit 1-7 and 0-2 in OWC-play, watching Philomath celebrating their fifth win of the season and their fourth in a row after starting 1-3 on the season and knowing their rival Cascade is to come Tuesday in Turner:
“It’s just the thing about effort mainly,” said Neuharth. “I think that’s our problem and playing as a team and not as a person.”
The Stayton Head Coach said too that his team needs to be more aggressive, wanting that desire, while playing. Taking it to the next level in other words.
“A lot of hitting for us right now is timing and I think it’s getting as many quality reps as we can get in practice and trying to get our timing, getting our feet underneath us at the bat,” said Salisbury. “That’s the biggest thing that we got and get aggressive. I think right now we’re real tentative, and like I told them, we have to be more aggressive to play.
“Defensively, biggest thing we need is…like I told the boys after the game, you got to have a higher level of desire, a higher level of want to. There’s a lot of ability out here and I think defensively, we slow the game down and we play with a lot of effort, a lot of desire it’ll happen. You just got to put the work in.”
The Cougars, lead by two big name pitchers in Mitchell Bell and Cota Wakem, will be another tough test for Stayton this upcoming week.
But with the storm that rolled in Thursday that stretched into Friday, Cascade will be playing three games between Tuesday and Thursday as they make up Friday’s game versus Yamhill-Carlton on Wednesday afternoon, could Stayton squeak out a win over their rival in the process? We’ll have to see.
First pitch is scheduled for Tuesday at Cascade High School at 4:30pm.
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