Losing six of its first seven games, the Philomath High softball team has certainly experienced a difficult start to the season. Cold spells at the plate and inconsistent play in the field with a lineup overall that is very young have been issues for the Warriors to work out.
Based on results in the last three games, Philomath appears to be making progress. The Warriors have put together a three-game winning streak with victories over Woodburn, Sisters and Stayton.
Sure, those first two opponents have been dealing with their struggles but Thursday’s 7-4 victory over Stayton represented a quality win. It was just the second loss this season for the Eagles.
“I think with every game, we’re starting to turn it around more and more,” PHS senior Ashlynn Barron said. “We obviously still have a lot to work on still defensively and offensively — it depends on the day. Yesterday (Wednesday) in our game we had offensive work to do. Today (Thursday), it’s defensive. But with every practice and every game, we get better.”
Another senior, Kyla Berger, said it’s been a rough start.
“I feel like we’ve been slowly progressing … it is still a little rough just trying to integrate people into the program,” Berger said. “Trying to get those younger players that are maybe a sophomore and junior now that have never played on varsity before and trying to get them into that high school atmosphere.”
Berger could be called a utility player based on her versatility on the field. She’s seen innings in left field, right field and catcher, plus she said there’s been talk of her getting some time at first base.
“It’s a matter of locking in that team dynamic,” Berger said about what the team needs, “but it has been getting better and I feel like it’s really starting to show in some of these games.”
Coach Travis King mentioned one area of need on offense and that involves hitters being able to replicate in a game what they’ve done in practice.
“We are seeing signs of improvement with the bat,” King said. “We’re starting to get a little bit better at not looking at strikeouts versus actually swinging the bat. That’s what we’re focusing on — being aggressive. We can hit the heck out of the ball … it’s just that we’re not confident.”
Freshman Evy Remington has been a bright spot early this season with consistent exceptional performances at pitcher. Against Stayton, she went the distance allowed four hits and one walk with 11 strikeouts.
Philomath (4-6 overall, 3-2 Oregon West) built leads of 3-0 and 7-1 in the win. In the second, Hannah Bennett walked, moved to third on a Remington double and scored on a passed ball for the game’s first run. Remington came around to score on a Mia Bennett grounder to the shortstop.
In the third, Philomath added another run when Berger put a ball in play that resulted in a Stayton error. Presley Reichhuber, who had earlier walked, scored on the error.
After the Eagles got on the board in the top of the fourth, Philomath responded with four runs in the bottom half. With two runners aboard, Kori Galvan grounded out to second but it was enough to get Remington home. Elizabeth Morales-Marquez then reached on a two-base error that scored Mia Bennett. Both Remington and Bennett had reached earlier in the inning on singles.
Morales and Reichhuber scored the third and fourth runs of the inning on another Stayton error.
Stayton (10-2, 4-2) threatened late with three runs in the sixth with a walk, passed ball and error by Philomath playing into the situation.
Remington went 2 for 3 to lead Philomath hitters.
A key player that’s been missing from Philomath’s lineup this season has been catcher Reagan Larson, who suffered a broken wrist in the state girls basketball tournament. Although there are various factors in play, it’s possible that she might be able to play about the time the postseason arrives.
Despite the sub-.500 record, Philomath is ranked No. 9 in the OSAA rankings, an indication of the team’s difficult schedule. The Oregon West has four teams in the top 10 with the others being No. 2 Cascade, No. 6 Stayton and No. 7 Sweet Home.
On Wednesday, Philomath’s Remington allowed two hits and one walk while striking out 12 in the 3-1 victory.
The Warriors scored two in the first for the early lead. Reichhuber walked and eventually came around to score. Barron walked and later scored on a Remington double.
Philomath’s other run came in the sixth. Jenae Traglia walked, stole second, took third on a passed ball and scored on Hannah Bennett ground-out.
Philomath is scheduled to play Monday at home against Newport followed by a road game Wednesday at Cascade and a home game on Thursday against Sweet Home.