By Jeremy McDonald
MEDFORD, Ore.– Central’s Emily Cole came out of her sophomore year with two big statement games, and both came against the two teams who met in the 5A State Final in 2019.
Against Dallas, 5A State Runner-Up, Cole held the Dragons to one-hit while striking out 14 Dallas batters April 12, 2019. What’s as impressive, it was at Dallas.
Similarly Cole’s coldness returned into the postseason, when she and the Panthers had eventual 5A State Champions Ridgeview two runs, no extra base hits and had no earned runs allowed. The Ravens were averaging nearly 11 runs a game and had scored ten-or-more runs seven of the eight games previously before tragedy struck. Errors would ruin a fantastic defensive game as Ridgeview would win the game 3-2 on the road to a State Title.
“I really loved pitching in those games and just to have my team there to back me up. Being able to go out and pitch my Junior year, which didn’t happen, but it was fun to go out there and pitch in those games,” said Cole. “It’s what I like to do.”
Cole was a first-team All Mid-Willamette Conference and was named to the All-State team as well, help leading Central to a 17-10 overall record and a 13-3 MWC league title in the Quarterfinal run. But with the break from Coronavirus, it helped let the arm of the Central workhorse of a pitcher to make sure her arm is ready for hopefully her Senior Year.
There was even a moment leading into the Summer and Fall Travel Ball season where Cole had dragged out her younger brother to catch her pitching. Loosen up her arm for any games she may have over the course of the past few months, just working on her craft.
“It was helpful in the beginning, I laid low a little bit because I didn’t know what was happening. But then I was like, ‘I need to pitch’ and be ready for when we do play,” said Cole. “So, I kind of dragged my brother out to catch for me. He didn’t like it too much, but it was worth it and getting my arm right…I was like, ‘you’re a catcher and you need to catch me.”
Her younger brother plays with the Panther Baseball team in the Salem Baseball Academy Fall Ball league.
Cole has spent the Summer and Fall playing with the Oregon Blaze United 18U team, pitching and playing the infield. Getting the reps she would have gotten in the Spring now.
Friday Cole spent 12-hours taking part in the infield and pitching camp that Southern Oregon University Camp, working with other kids that came to Medford for the USA Softball Fall Classic in front of coaches to hopefully turn some heads from college coaches.
“It helped me a lot, I really enjoyed going and coaches get to see what I do. Obviously you want to do well but there’s no pressure to perform, I was there to do what I normally do so there’s no stress for me,” said Cole.
The Blaze United opened the Classic with a rollercoaster of a opener against the PNW Force 18A. After falling behind 7-0, the Oregon Blaze United rallied to tie in the top half of the fourth inning, Cole recorded a hit in the game. A late home run against the time limit put a damper of the United rally, but the squad would bounce back as they won their next two games to close out Pool Play 2-1.
“We had a little bit of an inning where we were flat when they scored the most of their runs, but I’m glad we bounced back and we came down to the very end of winning it or losing it. It was good,” said Cole, who struck out six batters against the Corvallis Lady Knights.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald