By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Cascade’s defense has been on a rail since their 7-5 defeat to Philomath/Alsea on April 21. Not allowing more than four runs in their four-game winning streak with the Cougars sitting 7-2 nine games into the season following their 7-3 win over Stayton Thursday afternoon on the road.
Defense that has given pitcher Hannah Walliman confidence as she had a shutout going into the sixth inning against their rival in the Eagles.
“I’ve been really confident because my defense has really helped me go out there and throw. I don’t have to worry about my defense messing up and that really helped me so I can go out there and throw the way I need to,” Walliman said, who struck out seven in seven innings. “I think we need to continue what we’re doing. Our defense has been saving us, in our game against Newport they had a big game for us.
“I think we’ve had a newfound confidence and we haven’t had much drama with the team, which is nice because we’re able to connect with each other and have good relationships. We didn’t have that in previous years.”
The offense scored at least once in five innings, led by a 2RBI game by Gracie Van Agtmael and two-hit games by Emma Hilifiker, Abby Jeppsen, Jaimy Bangert and Crystal Campbell. Challenging the new-face in circle for Stayton this season in Jessica Rule.
Rule, a Sophomore, struck out three in seven innings as she took over the pitching duties from Sydney Maurer. Maurer graduated last year and is currently playing at Northwest University as the young Stayton-squad managed to get three-runs on Walliman in the sixth inning with Abby Archuleta owning two of them on a single.
“It was definitely a challenge trying to get everything going. Of course, Cascade is our rival team, so everyone is a little shaken up, but once we got into our groove we were good,” Archuleta said.
The Eagle defense hung up zeros in the fourth and seventh innings, causing hiccups in the machinery for Cascade in terms of runs across the board. Something worth noting for a Stayton team that’s sitting 5-6 on the year following Thursday’s game, learning from their Seniors who reached the 4A State Playoffs two years ago pre-pandemic.
“It’s definitely good to see that all of our…we’re such a young team and getting there and trying to carry on the legacy that everyone will be leaving with our Seniors,” Archuleta said.
Cascade outpaced the Eagle offense in hits 11-8 and managed to weave them around the four Stayton errors to string together their seven runs. Since their loss to the Warriors over a week ago, the Cougs have outscored their opposition 24-10 with one shutout in the process against Newport 2-0 on April 22.
“I know that our defense was super solid and our bats were struggling for a few games, but I’m glad that we’re getting things back up. We came here, we showed up and got runs in all but two innings,” Van Agtmael said. “I’m just happy to see that we’re all hitting again and making sure we’re getting those base hits.
“I think right now we need to continue what we’re doing and we have to keep working hard in every single game. Go out every single game like we did today, show up ready to work and just making sure we’re showing up ready to work and showing up to every game ready to work our butts off.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald