It’s on to the quarterfinals for the Henley Softball team for the sixth time since 2013.
The Hornets built an early lead and pulled away from Cascade, advancing with a 13-5 win.
“I thought it was a good win, any win in playoffs to move to the next day is a good thing. I thought Lilly Poe did a really good job, we were ready to play, we played really good defense and after the first inning made some adjustments at the plate,” Head Coach Bobby Mick said. “Cascade was ready to play, that’s what the playoffs are about, everyone here is coming to win one game.”
During warmups, the players knew that Cascade’s Mackenzie Dysinger would be bringing a heavy dose of her down-ball — a pitch that comes in low and finishes lower — and the plan was to leave that pitch and not swing at it.
The execution didn’t go as planned in the first two innings. Despite scoring two runs in the first inning — drawing three walks and scoring on a fielders choice and passed ball — the Hornets had 10 swings and misses in the first two innings.
“If we see it down don’t swing at it,” said sophomore catcher Maddie Perez who led the game with four RBIs. “In the beginning, we didn’t do a good job.”
In the third inning, the approach at the plate improved as Henley’s “pass the bat” mentality took over. Four consecutive singles off the bats of Kaila Mick, Perez, Carli Moore and Jessica Northcut doubled the Henley lead to 4-0.
“We wanted to leave that pitch alone but we chased it early, that’s one of those adjustments that we talk about,” Mick said. “I told (the team) we ultimately made the adjustment, in a perfect world I’d like to see us make it sooner.”
Trailing 4-0, Cascade would not die easy. With a stiff wind blowing out to centerfield, Bailey Dysinger sent a two-run shot over the centerfield fence to narrow the Hornet lead back down to two.
The Henley offense would respond in a big way. With one out in the fourth, Poe doubled which was followed up by a home run by Paige Barnett. Two batters later, Perez tripled to drive home two more runs. Pinch hitter MacKinley Hudson drove in another run to extend the lead back to 10-2.
The Cougars would add three more runs in the fifth inning and Camryn Boyles would hit Cascade’s second two-run homer of the game to bring the score to 10-5.
Once again, the Hornet would re-extend the lead, scoring three of their own in the bottom of the fifth.
“When they score we aren’t super worried,” Poe said. “We know that we are a good hitting team and that we can score. We weren’t really nervous during this game, we knew that we score runs. Them scoring runs just motivated us to score more runs.”
“They put a couple runs up, we came back and scored more every inning that they did that,” Mick said. “That was a great job on our part to respond and to keep playing the game.”
While Cougar batters were sending balls out of the park, there was little worry, if any, inside the circle. Poe threw seven total pitches following a home run, the result of those pitches was a three-pitch strikeout, a first-pitch ground out and another three-pitch strikeout.
“After I give up a home run my focus is to get the next batter,” said Poe, who struck out nine in seven innings. “The bases are cleared at that point, there’s no one on base that you have to worry about, my mindset is just throwing strikes and getting the next hitter. It’s in the past, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Poe finished the game by retiring the final seven Cougar batters to end their season.
“It was exactly what we expect. That’s why she’s out there at this point. It’s fun to watch kids like that compete, that’s another response, both times they hit out of the park she responded both times and mowed down the next two hitters. That’s something that she’s really good at.”
Henley will host Philomath in the Class 4A Quarterfinals Friday. First pitch has yet to be scheduled.
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