By Jeremy McDonald
MILL CITY, Ore.– After missing all of her junior year of Volleyball and Softball due to a knee injury and surgery after a freak accident on the last day of her sophomore year, here was Santiam’s Kielyn Thurston pitching on her Senior Day.
Tape around her left knee that acts like a brace, Thurston started slow in the Wolverines 19-4 win over Colton, the senior pitcher settled down in the second inning. Turning a quick three-up, three-down inning to keep the momentum rolling that her offense had given her after the first inning. A first inning that saw Santiam score 14 runs, one coming from Thurston off a sacrifice fly.
“My knee injury was probably one of the biggest mental tolls I’ve had in a long time. Not getting to play last year with those graduating seniors was really difficult, but getting back out on the field and getting to pitch felt like a mental refresh. All the work that I put in with my knee injury was actually worth it,” Thurston said. “These girls here at Santiam are like a family to me. Moving on from that is really difficult So it’s just overwhelming.”
Thurston finished the day after two innings, striking out four as McKenna Dodge came in for the third inning to close out the game as Thurston went to first base. She was one of three seniors honored after Monday’s win, along with Savannah Stanley and Erin Larsen as part of the Senior Day as Santiam wrapped up the regular season Wednesday with a doubleheader with Monroe.
And with the Dragons, Santiam, and Culver all within a game or two of one another, the next two will go a long way going into trying to fight for the postseason. After a 1-4 start to the year and going to league with that record, Santiam has really turned it around, sitting 12-6 in league and 13-9 overall going into this last series.
“If we can stay mentally strong. This could be for a spot for the playoffs,” Larsen describes.
“It’s been pretty big for us. Being really close to Blanchet that first game, that was huge for us. It’s shown how much work we’ve put in,” adds Thurston.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald