"We're up for any challenge. These first two games just set the pace." -- Courtney Shelley
“We’re up for any challenge. These first two games just set the pace.”
— Courtney Shelley
The rain wouldn’t let up in Washougal March 17, and neither would the Panthers during a five-run fifth inning that led to a 7-2 victory against Mountain View.
Washougal also defeated Skyview 4-2 March 16. That’s two wins against 4A softball teams for the 2A Panthers in just the first week of the season.
“It feels like we have been playing for two seasons instead of just our second game,” said senior catcher Madisen Baldwin. “We’ve all battled and learned to trust each other.”
Baldwin and starting pitcher Courtney Shelley controlled the Thunder throughout the game. Mountain View batters led off the first five innings with base hits. One of the girls hit a triple that turned into a run when the throw skipped away from the third baseman. Still, the Panthers only surrendered two runs. Shelley got out of dodge with strikeouts, and her defense smothered ground balls and turned a double play.
“I can’t strike out all the batters,” Shelley said. “It’s good to have defense, and have our bats come alive as well.”
Freshman Paige Forsberg set the table for the Panthers by going 4-for-4 at the plate. She kept the fith inning alive with a well-placed infield hit. Baldwin ripped the ball over the left fielder for an RBI double. After Kayla Lagerquist walked, freshman Dana Martin served a pitch into center for an RBI. The ball rolled past the fielder and Lagerquist also came around to score. Forsberg came home on a wild pitch. Sierra Carroll capped off the outburst with an RBI single.
“A couple of our solid bats weren’t producing, but team members stepped up and compensated,” said head coach John Carver. “When you put freshmen on varsity, there’s extra pressure on them to produce. It’s great when they are able to fall right in line with our veterans.”
Forsberg caught a tee shot to dead center to strand a runner at third base in the fourth inning of a tied game. Mountain View loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, but Shelley stopped a comebacker dead in its tracks and threw it to first for the third out. Shelley also struck out the final batter of the game.
Morgan Ratcliff and Forsberg both knocked in two runs to help visiting Washougal build a 4-0 advantage going into the bottom of the seventh inning at Skyview the day before. Lagerquist went the distance on the mound for the Panthers. Carver said the outfielders assisted on two double plays by catching flies and throwing the runners out before they could return to their bases safely.
Carver contributes this hot start to the girls for working hard on their game indoors during winter while the coaches were busy with wrestling. Baldwin and Shelley said their quick elimination from the postseason last season was all the motivation they needed.
“We’re up for any challenge this season,” Shelley said. “These first two games just set the pace.”
“Now that we know what we are capable of, we want to work even harder,” Baldwin added.
Today’s doubleheader with White Salmon has been canceled due to rain fall. Washougal heads to Castle Rock Thursday and Rochester Saturday.