Trailing visiting North Marion 11-4 with two outs in the bottom of the fourth in the first game of a Wednesday home doubleheader, Philomath High’s softball team desperately needed something good to happen.
Junior Kelsey Olsen smacked a double to open the inning but the Huskies ended up pulling off a double play for a quick two outs. Freshman Briahna Ledbetter worked a walk to get the Warriors back to the top of the order.
Gallery: PHS softball vs. North Marion (May 3, 2023)
A collection of photos from Philomath High’s first game of a softball doubleheader against North Marion on Wednesday.
That’s when center fielder Mia Bennett delivered. The PHS senior homered to center field and although Philomath still trailed by five runs as the inning came to a close, the dinger provided a much-needed spark.
The Warriors outscored North Marion, 7-1, the rest of the way and won the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh on a passed ball. The team carried its momentum over into the second game and defeated North Marion on the 10-run mercy rule, 17-7.
“That was her first, her first ever, and I’m super proud,” PHS coach Travis King said about Bennett’s home run. “She’s really been hitting the ball well.”
Over the team’s past five games, Bennett has a .526 batting average to put her well over .400 for the season. Her productivity at the plate prompted King to move her up into the leadoff position in the batting order.
Beyond the home run, the Warriors still had plenty of work in front of them to complete a comeback against the visitors. North Marion scored a 12th run in the top of the fifth to go up by six but would be shut out in the sixth and seventh to give Philomath the opening it needed.
In the bottom of the fifth, seniors Grace Bennett and McKenzie Hauck had back-to-back singles and sophomore Hannah Bennett followed by reaching on an error to produce a run. The Warriors then made their big scoreboard move in the sixth.
North Marion had some fielding issues during the inning and the Warriors took advantage with a four-spot on the scoreboard. Grace Bennett actually had the only hit with a one-run single.
In the seventh, Olsen reached on an error, junior Ahnika Tryon walked and Ledbetter was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Mia Bennett followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice when North Marion made a throw to third for the force. However, Olsen scored on the play to tie the score.
After a pop-out to the second baseman, Philomath was down to its final out before possible extra innings. But the inning continued when senior Adrianna Hunter got aboard when she was hit by a pitch. With Grace Bennett at the plate, the ball got past North Marion’s catcher and Ledbetter scored on a passed ball to give Philomath the victory.
“They didn’t lose focus and we didn’t have an error-filled game, which is really great and positive looking forward,” King said. “But they kept battling and they got on the bats and just kept chipping away at it.”
Tryon relieved senior starter Elizabeth Morales-Marquez at pitcher with one out in the third inning and had an effective outing against the Huskies.
“She’s really gotten back into the swing of things and she’s found the changeup, which has been great,” King said.
Tryon went 4-2/3 innings and allowed four hits, one earned run and one walk with six strikeouts. At the plate, Mia Bennett went 3 for 5 with three runs, two RBIs, a triple and that home run. Hauck finished 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Grace Bennett was 2 for 4 with two runs. Ledbetter scored four times.
In the nightcap, Philomath jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first but North Marion battled back and trailed by just two runs through three innings.
But the Warriors unloaded in the fourth by scoring nine times for a 15-4 lead. The final score ended up 17-7 in five innings. Hunter threw a complete game in the circle.
“She was pitching well and they were struggling,” King said. “She struck out three and she did walk six but she didn’t give up an earned run in the game.”
Hannah Bennett went 3 for 4 with a double, three runs and three RBIs. The team’s other six hits were scattered among six different players. Sophomore Laighla Hockema, Tryon, Hunter and junior Presley Reichhuber each drove in two runs. Mia Bennett, Olsen, Tryon, Reichhuber, sophomore Isabel Morales-Marquez and sophomore Jenae Traglia each scored two runs.
It was the second-highest scoring output of the season for the Warriors, trailing only the 21 that Philomath put up on April 17 against Newport.
The Warriors (5-15 overall, 4-7 Oregon West) played Cascade Thursday and will head to Stayton Monday. The team’s Senior Day game will be at home against Newport on May 10.