By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– Cascade had their work cut out for them first game of the season when they hosted 4A front-runner Marist Thursday afternoon. But instead of crumbling under the pressure and nerves that they were feeling, the Cougars rose to the occasion.
Their defense kept them in the game in the 3-0 defeat to open the season. Infield did their thing, outfield too as they held the Spartan offense to one run going into the seventh inning. Hannah Walliman and McKenna Gramzow anchored them as the pitcher-catcher battery in the season and home opener.
Walliman finished the game with eight strikeouts as Cascade swam instead of sinking when they were thrown into the deep end with this season opening game, starting the season on a high-note despite the final result.
“It was good. We were out there, you could feel the energy, you can feel how much we wanted it,” Kailee Bode said. “But that, against the defending State Champions with how we did, we did really good.”
“This is a lot better than how we started last year, this is a lot better starting off. So that was really nice to see,” adds Gramzow. “We were going really hard today, it was good to see. Running…outfielders, they were running and diving. That’s what we want to see out there…We got a new kid on third and responded well, Malia (Scanlan), her first hit at third she picked it up. She hasn’t played this very long, so she did very well. Team chemistry is a lot better this year.”
The Spartans won the 4A Softball State Showcase last Spring on the heels of a 4A quarter finals appearance in 2019. The Cougars finished fourth in the 2021 4A State Showcase as both teams have aspirations in making a deep run at the 4A State Title this Spring.
Walliman finished the game with a complete game, eight-strikeout performance. Challenging Hawaii-commit Malia Williams to continue her dominance in the circle. Williams held the Cougars to a Abby Jeppesen hit and surrendered a walk as it took until the seventh inning for her offense to add a cushion to their lead behind two-runs on a walk, error and three singles.
The rise-ball by Williams created headaches for Cascade, but it’s something they’ll work on as they get more live at-bats and work on their plate approach. Yes, not a lot of pitchers aren’t like Williams, but they’re likely to see similar pitches that they saw Thursday down the road this season.
“We can improve more by working on more riseballs,” laughed Bode. “I mean we did better than I expected with the riseballs, but we can do a lot better when it comes to riseballs. But outside of that, we did pretty well.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald