By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The first game of the 16A State Playoffs for the Oregon Herricanes was anything but fantastic under the very warm skies of the West Salem summer afternoon Friday.
With Emily Cole starting in the circle, the Central pitcher pitched four innings of two hit softball with five strikeouts to her name with Zoe Whitlow and Gracie Zanona both driving in three RBIs each in the 7-0 win over the LC Devastation to open the State Tournament.
That two-hour window cooled off the bats of the Herricanes, which accounted for 13 hits with those seven runs, a bit with them opening a 3-0 lead over the Silver Bullets entering the bottom of the second inning of the squad’s second game of the tournament.
The Sliver Bullets slowly showed why they have scored 33 runs in the two games leading up to their third game of the day with them scoring six runs in the bottom half of the second inning to take a 6-3 lead into the third.
“I think the break kind of hurt us. Having such a long break in between the games,” said Maddie Friesen. “So after the first one, we had a lot of momentum going from that and that break kind of killed it off a little bit and so we had to get that all going again and I think we had a tough time doing that.”
The Bullets threw a monkey-wrench into the bats of the Oregon Herricanes by throwing out Kacie Schmidt, who challenged the good bats of Herricanes by slowing them down and hanging up zeros in the second and third innings after their hot first inning before Sydney Nash’s two-RBI triple that got Oregon back into the game in the fourth inning down 7-5.
“I think you just got to fight fire with fire and just have the energy,” said Paris Sandvig, who scored on Nash’s triple from second base on adjusting. “If you have a lower level energy, they’re going to feel like they’re standing over you. So you got to fight the same energy like they are, so you just got to come in with the same energy and eventually it shows up at the end.”
The bats slowly returned to form for the Herricanes with Oregon switching things up with switching Maurer from shortstop with Cole in the circle with Cole going to shortstop. Like Schmidt, Maurer too slowed the Sliver Bullets bats to two runs as the Stayton pitcher and infielder held te Bullets to two runs in four innings of pitching.
“My goal is to keep moving around, keeping it off the plate and jamming them up and just letting my defense work too. Just trusting them as well as trusting myself,” said Maurer, who added five strikeouts to Cole’s four strikeouts.
The Herricanes were able to get a runner on bases in the fifth and sixth, but weren’t able to overcome Schmidt and her defense in the 8-6 game to close out both team’s first day of the 16A State Championships at Wallace Marine Softball Park.
With Day 2 starting at 3pm for the Herricanes, and needing to win three straight-in-a-row to get to Sunday’s quarterfinals, they’ll just have to take it one game at a time, one-pitch at a time as they await to see who they’ll be facing from Saturday’s early games.
“We just focus on one-bat, one-ball at a time. As long as you got your mind in that game, the games will come after,” starts Maurer.
“We just have to get the momentum going early and try to keep that going throughout the day and keep that going,” adds Friesen for Saturday.
And seeing a team like the Sliver Bullets to close out the first day gives the squad a good learning experience for Day 2 of the tournament as they make the push for Day 3.
“It teaches us how to be coachable and realize that, ‘hey they hit it here each time. Maybe we have to adjust’, so it’s a good learning experience and it’s good that we’re early on in pool play that we still get a chance to move our way up the bracket instead of further down,” said Sandvig.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald