By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore– There was a nice size divot left by South Salem’s Rowan Thompson and West Salem’s Aliyah Wilsey following their defensive battle Monday afternoon at West Salem High School.
The divot itself was roughly ankle deep and reached out roughly an yard from where the mound starts. Illustrating how hard these two pitchers were going in the Saxons 3-2 victory, spoiling the Titans Senior Night despite how both defenses played in the game.
Thompson, being the young gun in the circle, vastly improved from both team’s first match-up a month ago to start the season. Steadily improving throughout the season and built off her pitching performance against West Albany into the mid-week tilt, slowly finding her groove in the circle.
“I think it was a rocky start (to the year) with all the nerves being a freshman coming in. We haven’t had fans in forever so coming into that was really nerve-racking, but now that I’m settling down and getting to know my team I’m settling into the pitcher that I am,” Thompson said.
Wilsey admitted she woke up Wednesday morning with some butterflies. It was Senior Day for her and five other Titan Seniors. The nerves showed in the first inning as the Saxons jumped out to a 2-0 lead off RBI singles by Desirae Hatfield and Alley Issac before settling in themselves.
West Salem would eventually tie the game up in the bottom half of the second inning with a Sacrifice Fly RBI by Maison Searle and Mia Zachary drawing a bases loaded walk that had tie up the game at two going into the third inning.
“The first inning I had a lot of jitters thinking ‘we have one week left’. It wasn’t the ideal season we wanted to begin with, it’s already short, But I think everyone got their jitters out in the first inning and the scoreboard said we came to play and we showed up,” Wilsey said. “My teammates, they made great defensive plays and I’m really proud of them for doing that. We’ve struggled with that at the beginning of the season but our defense has been spot on. Yeah maybe our bats were lacking but I couldn’t have asked for a better Senior Night for my girls and I know they put their all in for me and that’s all I can thank them for.”
Zeroes were hung on the board as defense rang as heroes of the diamond. Wilsey and Thompson, with their catchers in Reagan Davis and Naomi Galanti behind the dish and the defense behind them made sure the other squad’s offense didn’t plate a run.
Thompson struck out 12 and held the Titans to three hits. Two of them came between the third and fifth innings before turning back-to-back three-up, three-down innings to give her offense a chance.
But Wilsey, like Thompson, wasn’t giving the Saxons much. West gave up seven hits, but didn’t break. Even when Bella Wolf’s sixth inning double had set-up a Lily Mills go-ahead RBI single, that was all the Titans had given up over the final six innings of the game. Putting pressure on the freshman to finish off the game.
“It was really big,” Thompson said of the run. “That gave us the confidence to go into the last inning to just kill it. We were trying to manufacture runs the entire game.”
Thompson turned her second and final three-up, three-down inning to seal the 3-2 victory to hand South their seventh win of the season. Both squads have four games left in the six-week season, Saxons will host Sprague Friday while West Salem travels to West Albany Friday for a doubleheader.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald