By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– South Salem’s Rowan Thompson had been working on her pitching endurance in the offseason and it showed right out of the gate back on Wednesday against Sherwood as she went a full eight innings with 18-strikeouts against the Bowman in the tough 6-5 defeat. Two days later the Saxon junior was back out in the circle, going four innings with another eight strikeouts in South Salem’s 15-0 victory over South Eugene Friday afternoon at home.
The extra work with the NW Vandals travel ball team she plays on that could require a lot of innings during tournaments had upped her game just that much more entering this season. It challenged her to still be consistent when pitching coming back into school ball.
“It was good (Wednesday) because we went into extra innings and I think what helped us was I had a lot of good endurance so that in the eighth-inning I was still hucking and I felt like I was still in control of the game. Today was ok, I would’ve liked to have done a little bit better. I felt like I wasn’t as mentality-focused today, but next week is going to be big because we have Westview. That’s going to be the focus that will be carried for the rest of the season and into the postseason because we’re shooting big,” Thompson said.
The Saxons return a solid core from last year’s Sweet 16 squad. Mackenzie Scott, Desi Hatfield, Hannah Tapusua and Hallie Olson are returning All-Conference selections, joining Thompson who was a first-team All-Mountain Valley Conference pitcher as a sophomore, as they set their eyes on another 6A State Playoff appearance. Playing in the same conference, the now-Central Valley Conference, that has a McNary-squad looking to reach the State Semi’s once more and scrappy teams in Sprague and West Salem with them.
“We got girls that are really experienced that have been there and done that, so it’s routine now. And so we can get there, know what we have to do better this year,” Thompson starts. “We got girls who’ve been there and they can do it at a high-level and have the confidence to do it.”
Adjusting will be the key factor for the squad this Spring. They adjusted to Sherwood the other day as they came close in forcing a ninth-inning if not win it and slowly adjusted to what the Axe threw their way Friday to close out the first week of the regular season.
“It’s something this team has done really well, even on Wednesday and just adjusting when we needed to. We didn’t do it for the majority of the game to get into it, first game and all that, but then in the eighth-inning we flipped that switch and started going, ‘ok. We can do this’. Then this game we were working on adjustments, in the second inning we didn’t score any. It was a little bump in the road abd I feel like we got over that really well and that’ll be big when we go into games when they have two different pitchers.
South Salem will travel to play Franklin on Tuesday before hosting Westview Wednesday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald