Following Philomath High’s 21-17 softball win Monday evening over Newport, senior McKenzie Hauck almost sounded astonished to hear what she was saying.
“Those are the first home runs of my career — my entire softball career,” she said. “It’s seriously emotional.”
Gallery: PHS softball vs. Newport (April 17, 2023)
A collection of photos from Philomath High’s 21-17 softball win over Newport on Monday.
Hauck smacked two home runs that turned out to be key moments in the high-scoring affair against the visitors from the coast. The first one to left-center in the first inning might’ve been helped along by a stiff wind blowing in the same direction and gave Philomath its first lead at 4-3. The second one was a no-doubter that bounced off the paved trail beyond the left-field fence and provided a little extra insurance in the bottom of the sixth.
“She was probably the most consistent hitter last year for us … but we saw it last year in that we felt that she’s going to get a hold of one eventually,” PHS coach Travis King said. “She obviously got a hold of two of them.”
Hauck said she’s been working hard on her swing this season.
“My batting average hasn’t been as good as it was last year and so I’ve been really working hard on my form with Coach Travis and Coach Todd (Ledbetter) and I think that today it just really clicked,” she said. “I just got in the flow and made contact.”
The game, which lasted for a little more than two hours in chilly and rainy conditions, featured a combined 27 hits, 38 runs and 14 errors. Newport held a 17-11 lead going into the bottom of the fifth — that’s when the Warriors broke out and put a nine-spot on the scoreboard.
Philomath (3-10 overall, 2-2 Oregon West) sent 13 batters to the plate in the fifth — an inning that ended on an unassisted double play. Grace Bennett had a two-run single and later scored on a single to center by Elizabeth Morales-Marquez. Errors contributed to the Warriors’ next five runs, a stretch that saw Philomath go up, 19-17. Kaylie Kohler hit a one-run single to add another run to the lead.
Morales-Marquez took the game over in the circle over the final two innings. In the sixth with the Cubs (7-6, 2-2) trailing by three, Newport’s Haley Wiles hit a one-out triple to right field and it looked like the high-scoring theme of the day would continue. However, Morales-Marquez got the second out by fielding a grounder, holding Wiles to third and throwing to first for the second out. Morales-Marquez struck out the next batter to get out of the inning.
In the seventh, Morales-Marquez had all of the momentum and struck out the side. In a 97-pitch performance over five innings, she struck out eight, allowed five hits and four walks and just two earned runs.
“We started to see it in the sixth inning with how she was bringing a little bit more velocity and just snapping and really bringing it,” King said. “We’re proud of that — we’re real happy with what we’re seeing.”
Ahnika Tryon started and struck out three batters and walked none over her two innings of work.
“Ahnika’s doing well … she acquired a changeup so it’s been pretty positive,” King said. “She’s throwing better each time she works with it. … Just a little bit of change makes all the world different.”
Hauck, who played left field in the game vs. Newport, believes the team has the ability to work through the rough spots it’s seen this season. She points to the tournament in Medford over spring break that provided an opportunity for the players to jell.
“We started sharing a lot more and there’s just a ton of positivity,” Hauck said. “I feel like they can hit the ball anywhere and one of my teammates has it.”
Philomath has certainly been through the ringer as far as quality of opponents on a tough schedule. Seven of the team’s nine losses vs. Oregon opponents came against teams ranked in the most recent coaches’ poll — No. 1 Stayton, No. 3 Lebanon (in 5A), No. 3 The Dalles, No. 4 Pendleton, No. 6 La Grande, No. 7 Cascade and No. 10 Dayton (in 3A). Even the California team that the Warriors lost in the Medford tournament has a dozen wins.
“It was definitely like really good preparation,” Hauck said about the team’s challenging schedule and its impact on conference play. “Our coaches really thought ahead on that one.”
King believes the team turned a corner in last week’s loss to Stayton. Although a 10-0 loss on the scoreboard, the Warriors were only down two runs on the road against top-ranked Eagles going into the bottom of the fifth.
“The score didn’t set the tone for the game,” King said. “We played a really positive game that day and then came right into it Saturday and brought some positivity. I think we’re starting to jell a little bit.
Philomath beat North Marion Saturday afternoon in a game that had been rescheduled following a rainout earlier in the week, 15-7.
Kohler, Grace Bennett and Hauck each had three hits for the Philomath offense. Presley Reichhuber had a pair of hits with both going for extra bases on a triple and a double. Grace Bennett, Hauck, Reichhuber and Mia Bennett each drove in three runs. Hauck, Kori Galvan, Reichhuber and Mia Bennett scored three times apiece.
Taylor Schaffner led the Cubs with a 3-for-5 effort with three RBIs and three runs scored. Sophia Bush and Schaffner both saw time at pitcher and threw a combined 169 pitches in the game.
Philomath is scheduled to play at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Sweet Home.