Kamden Combs
Although Sweet Home scored 14 runs against Philomath pitcher Kamden Combs, only one was earned, an indication of the Warriors' struggles on defense. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Coming off a 10-run victory on the road at Sisters to open the season, the Philomath High softball team had to feel some degree of momentum coming into Thursday’s matchup against Sweet Home.

In the opener, the team had proven it could bring the bats. The team had responded when the opponent threatened. The pitching was effective with four hits allowed and 10 strikeouts. And the Warriors would be playing on their home field for an official game for the first time in 23 months.

If there was any momentum, however, it quickly dissipated. Sweet Home took advantage of Philomath’s mistakes, including during a marathon 10-run second inning, and defeated the Warriors, 16-1. The game ended on the 15-run mercy rule — officials call it if either team leads by 15 or more runs through three or four innings.

“What it came down to was 100% you got embarrassed in front of a huge crowd that we haven’t seen in a very long time,” PHS coach Travis King said when asked what he told the team after the loss. “The defensive errors that we had worked on all week long to make sure that wasn’t an issue, once they started, we couldn’t pull back from it.”

Sweet Home (2-1) opened the game with three runs in the top of the first on two hits, two walks and two errors. Philomath went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half against Sweet Home pitcher Savannah Hutchins, who finished the game allowing just two hits and one walk with nine strikeouts.

In the second, the Warriors appeared to have settled down by retiring the first two Husky batters on a quick pop-up in front of the plate that catcher Kyla Berger secured and then on a groundout to second. But Sweet Home managed to score 10 runs with those two outs hanging over its head to completely take control of the game.

PHS base runner Kaili Saathoff and head coach Travis King watch a play unfold in the third inning. Saathoff scored when Presley Reichhuber reached on an error. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

In the second, Sweet Home sent 16 batters to the plate. Just like the first, errors and walks continued to plague the PHS defense.

Sweet Home scored 14 runs against Philomath starting pitcher Kamden Combs, but 13 of them were unearned in her three innings of work.

“You have got to back up your pitcher,” King said. “She’s throwing strikes and if she’s got to rely on the defense.”

Combs did have some control issues with eight walks and a hit batter. Sweet Home collected seven hits against Combs. Ahnika Tryon pitched the fourth and allowed four hits and two earned runs.

Philomath’s lone run came in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Kaili Saathoff singled and then got into scoring position by stealing second. She scored when the next batter, Presley Reichhuber, reached on an error.

PHS freshman Ahnika Tryon makes a play in Thursday’s game against Sweet Home. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Saathoff’s hit was the first of the game for the Warriors. The team got a second hit in the fourth when Combs singled to right field. The only other base runner was Melanie Baldwin, who worked a walk to lead off the second inning.

“Watching strike three was the biggest thing,” King said about the offensive challenges against Sweet Home. “We throw the ball down to that part of the plate and we hit in this field every day and we couldn’t do that today.”

The highlight of the game for Philomath occurred in the top of the fourth when Emily King pulled off an unassisted double play on a line drive and tagout.

Philomath (1-1) will head to Stayton on Monday and play its next home game on Wednesday against Cascade.

Sweet Home 16, Philomath 1 (4)
Thursday at Philomath HS
Sweet Home (2-1)3101216
Philomath (1-1)00101
Note: Game stopped after 4 innings on 15-run mercy rule
Maddie Harris, cf5210
Savannah Hutchins, p3321
Bailee Hartsook, ss2211
Chloe Fairchild, c3101
Brooke Burke, 2b3222
Mykal Johnston, 3b4210
Mikayla Guthrie, 1b1212
Adisen Graber, rf3121
Kaylea Layman, ph1000
Kelsie Rush, lf2110
Kaili Saathoff, cf2110
Presley Reichhuber, rf-2b2000
Emily King, 3b-ss2000
Melanie Baldwin, 1b-3b1000
Kamden Combs, p-1b2010
Ahnika Tryon, ss-2b-p2000
Cassidy Lewis, lf2000
Kyla Berger, c1000
Ashlynn Barron, 2b-ss1000
Mia Bennett, rf0000
DP: Philomath 1. LOB: Sweet Home 9, Philomath 3. 2B: Burke.
Savannah Hutchins W421019
Kamden Combs L3714184
Ahnika Tryon142200

Philomath 17, Sweet Home 2 (4)
Thursday at Philomath HS
Sweet Home20002
Note: Game stopped after 4 innings on 15-run mercy rule
Philomath’s JV team opens the season with a 1-0 record. … The Warriors hit .786 in the game (11 for 14) and drew nine walks. … Phoebe Dodson went 2 for 2 with three RBIs and two runs scored. … McKenzie Hauck was 2 for 2 with two runs. … Emma Hood finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs. … Madison Barron drove in three runs. … Kori Galvan, Kelsey Olsen, Macy Freeman, Grace Bennett, Mackenzie Hiner and Elizabeth Morales each scored two runs. … Adrianna Hunter pitched three innings and allowed seven hits and no walks with five strikeouts. … Hiner pitched one inning and struck out two. … The JV team’s next game is scheduled for Monday at Harrisburg with the first pitched at 4:30 p.m.