Sometimes, it’s just better to not hit send.
Leading up to Tuesday’s semifinal match, with a berth in the state title game on the line, Henley softball players caught wind of a social media post from a Banks player who was all too certain that they would pull off the upset and play for the state title game.
Needless to say, the prediction did not come true. While the Braves are enjoying a long bus ride back home, the Hornets are celebrating a third trip to the state title game, with a 10-0 win in five innings over the braves.
“This one was satisfying because there was a lot of talk going on over social media how they are absolutely going to kill us,” said senior Kaila Mick. “So it was satisfying to win this way.”
Social media posts aside, Tuesday’s win was something head coach Bobby Mick saw coming — he just wasn’t going to say it out loud to his players.
“I felt like we were going to come out and truly have an opportunity to 10-run a team regardless of who it was, and that’s no disrespect to Banks,” Mick said. “I saw it in the approach that we had in practice the past two days, it is something that I did see and hoping for.
“Thinking it and doing it are two different things.”
Against Banks, it didn’t take long to do the thing. Paige Barnett, the Hornet’s leadoff hitter, hit an inside-the-park homerun on the first pitch that she saw. Typically, Bobby Mick would have held the runner at third given the hitters following in the lineup.
“She had a good turn and I felt like they were going to have to make a great play to have a play,” Mick said. “So I was willing to take that risk to try to establish momentum.”
Momentum swung just as the coach envisioned. Henley would add five more runs in the innings to take a 6-0 lead after the first inning. Carli Moore and Jessica Northcutt hit consecutive RBI doubles, Katie Majors drove in another run and then Lilly Poe helped her cause by driving home two more with two outs.
In the circle, Poe rebounded after a rough outing in the quarterfinals against Alsea. But playing with a lead certainly helped this time around.
“It’s definitely comforting,” Poe said. “I know I can give up a few hits here and there it’s not that big of a deal. It’s comfortable playing with a lead, and it wasn’t windy to that made it better.”
After giving up eight runs with two outs in her previous outing, Poe allowed just one hit and one walk with two outs against the Braves finishing with seven strikeouts in five shutout innings. There wasn’t an adjustment that Poe made or a different approach that she took against Banks.
“Honesty, Philomath’s hitters were just better,” the senior right-hander said. “They were a better hitting team. I pitched the same but Philomath got me better than this team did.”
Having knocked Banks down, the Hornets didn’t allow a chance for Braves to get back up. Henley added another run in the second and three more in the fourth inning on a two-run double off the bat of Maddie Perez.
Henley will play in its third state title game in as many years, seeking its second title those three years. To do so, Henley will have to beat La Grande, the team that put a stop to the Hornets quest of repeating as champs a year ago.
“It was outstanding,” Mick said. “these girls know how to win, they were ready when they came out and ready to see whatever challenge they had. And right from the very first pitch, we were executing our gameplan offensively and they stuck with it.”
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