By Jeremy McDonald
NEWBERG, Ore.– Call it first-day, first-game jitters but the NM Magic 06 14U found a way to end their first pair of games back in action with a rally of rallies.
It was a matter of time before their offense came around for the 14U squad Sunday afternoon at the Darnell Wright Sports Complex in Newberg. Outside of a few rusty plays defensively and tough start to the day with their bats, the Magic were hanging around with the Oregon Wild Wild 06 in their 6-0 defeat to start the day and the opening two innings of their game with the Washington Nighthawks 14U.
Ava Shaffer had struck out five to this point in four-and-a-third, Ambur Livingston contributed another two in relief for the squad looking for their first run of the summer season down 4-0 to the ‘Hawks.
Call it a bad stroke of luck in the top of the third inning, call it fatigue even from knocking off the cobwebs from two months of not playing; but it seemed as if the wheels were coming off the bus with frustration as Washington plated ten runs before the inning was over.
But the hits, their fighting spirit appeared entering the third inning. Hitting like they’ve showed before said Magic 06 and North Marion High School Assistant Softball Coach Robert Shaffer as they began their journey back into the game entering the bottom of the inning.
“Getting the rust off, we haven’t been on the field for two months,” said Magic and North Marion Head Softball Coach Robert Shaffer. “Like I told them…how proud of them I was of them that they didn’t just call it a day and they fought until the very last out. That’s the character of this team.
“The mental errors, we’ll clean that up.”
The squad scored four runs in the bottom half of the inning to pull within ten of the Nighthawks, 14-4, before Livingston turned the side with a pair of ground-outs and a strikeout. It was Livingston’s fourth as she came in for the power pitcher in Shaffer towards the end of the previous inning.
“I think I did pretty good. Definitely a lot of mental stress, but I just pushed through and tried my best,” said Livingston.
Four batters into their bottom of the fourth inning, down to their final two outs as the time-limit was reached, the NM Magic 06 squad finally arrived with their bats. Grace Larsen, Kayla Meyer, Livingston, Shaffer all drove to pull the Magic to 14-9 as they came down to their final possibly of their day with the mojo.
“It was amazing. At first it was a struggle, we were getting down on ourselves. Just rallying on ourselves, keeping our heads up and getting it together,” said Livingston, who went 3-for-5 in two games Sunday.
“It was really nice to finish it, get it done with and know we were where we were and know that we were so far down…I don’t think we had the spirit at first. Losing our first game by losing so much and we knew we had to work harder, so we’ve tried to keep our energy up and know that we can come back,” adds Shiloh Thompson.
Thompson’s at-bat followed Graci Dahl reaching on base off an error during the eight-run inning. And after her initial shot down the right field line was called foul, answered back with an equal of an shot to center field to drive in two more runs.
“I was frustrated that I didn’t get the first one,” Thompson starts, who finished with those two RBI’s on the day. “I liked how she was pitching so I knew I could go back and try again.”
Larsen singled to drive in a run to cut the deficit to two before the rally came to an end shortly after the 12th run of the 14-12 game came across home plate. Kayla Meyers drove in a team-high four RBI’s and Shaffer also contributed three hits in the doubleheader.
With the first weekend of jitters out of the way now, it’s now time to work as they clean up the little things in their game as they prepare for their next tournament in two weeks. One of the biggies will be fielding as they had a few bobbles during their two games Sunday.
“I think we should improve a lot on our fielding because we’ve had a lot of fielding issues. We should go after our fielding,” said Thompson. “If we mess up on something, we got to make sure our teammates know what their doing afterwards.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald