Not many coaches can say they have been happy with the result of a loss after a game.
Henley head coach Bobby Mick is different.
Mick has been notorious in past seasons to give his Hornets a difficult nonleague schedule, and this season was no different.
The now No. 1 Hornets had a wake-up call when their only loss thus far came in an April 3 meeting with Crater, which ended in a 7-4 defeat. This past Thursday, Henley took the game back and won at home, 8-2.
The accolades have continued to pile up for the Hornets Saturday with a sweep of Mazama at home, 23-1 and 8-0 to win their eighth Skyline Conference championship in a row.
“It is kind of a culture that is building upon itself, a torch that keeps getting passed. The goals are something the girls have. They have it written down individually. It is not something the coaches direct. I know what their goals are but it is not something we talk about,” Mick said. “Winning the Skyline is a privileged but this game is humbling. If you do not prepare one game at a time, it will humble you. The Crater loss at their place. As a coach, I was happy. I was glad. We knew we did not play well. I know we have gotten better because of it.”
This year's nonleague schedule has not been easier than that of past seasons.
Henley beat No. 6 Marist Catholic, No. 3 Junction City, Class 6A Bend, No. 10 5A Central and No. 11 5A Eagle Point before conference play started.
Once the Hornets get past Hidden Valley for their final conference series this coming week, which they are expected to win, more difficult games will come before the state playoffs begin.
Henley will face Grants Pass, the No. 2 ranked 6A team and the No. 1 ranked team in 5A play, Ridgeview, two teams the Hornets will look to avenge after losing to the same teams last year.
Senior Kaila Mick was phenomenal in the opening game versus the Vikings.
She opened the doubleheader just right when she sent a shot past the right field fence for a three-run home run.
In every inning, she provided the Hornets a boost.
She followed with a sacrifice fly in the second inning to score Paige Barnett. Later in the inning, Mick crushed the softball once more with yet another three-run homer to center field, which was part of 11 Hornet runs in the second.
She capped off the game with a RBI double in the bottom third inning.
Mick's stellar performance carried into the second game when she had two doubles.
“I would not say the scoreboards mattered at all. Either way, I think it showed some domination. No matter if it was eight or 26, I think we felt we were playing good for all three games,” Kaila Mick said. “After we win a game, we do not really think about it afterwards. We won that, OK, it is on to the next. We won this, now it is on to Wednesday and we play Hidden Valley. It is great to win the conference but our goal is bigger than that. Obviously that is not our ultimate goal.”
Henley pitcher Lilly Poe was close to yet another no-hitter before Mazama's Kynzie Grounds came up with a double.
Poe allowed Mazama's lone run to score, walked no players and had eight strike outs.
With three strong pitchers, Bobby Mick does his best to make it fair for backup pitchers Emily Majors and Carli Moore.
“We did everything we wanted to do today. No one knew who was pitching after the first game,” Poe said. “He said I will decide in three minutes who will pitch,”
It was Moore who was called upon.
Moore allowed only three Viking hits, one walk and had eight strike outs. She also had a RBI double in the second game, one of her two hits.
“I think he can trust all of us. I like the competitiveness. I like being able to control the game. I just try to pitch the first strike. If you get ahead in the count, you can throw whatever, and Lilly is really good at that,” Moore said. “If you make a mistake, focus on what you can do on the next play. Do not dread on the mistake. Winning conference gets us one step closer to state.”
Sophomore Mackinley Hudson was also a spark in the second game and had a two-run home run.
Senior Jessica Northcutt had a two RBI double and ended with two hits, as did Majors.
Fighting for second place
The Vikings still have a lot to play for and the upcoming series against North Valley will determine who will be the second and third seed in the conference. North Valley holds the edge with an 8-4 conference record, while Mazama is 7-5.
“I am very proud of our team today. We could have just gave up against Henley but we had that one run in the second game,” Mazama junior Grace Spoon said. “We have a lot to play for still and I think we can pick up from the positives today and use that to compete with North Valley. We want to earn that second spot.”