Michael Hickey said there’s nothing like celebrating with family at home plate.
The Washougal High School junior catcher crushed a 2-run home run to help the Panthers beat the Hockinson Hawks 7-4 Friday, at Louis Bloch Park, in Camas.
“I didn’t think I got that much elevation on it, but it felt good,” Hickey said. “It’s awesome just having the family at home plate.”
The day before, Preston Thornton nailed a 3-run home run in a 12-7 victory for Washougal at Woodland.
For the first time in more than a decade, the Panthers are off to a 2-0 start in league.
“I’m happy and the kids are happy,” said head coach Jaycop Collins. “You can see the difference in them when they’re batting, in the field or just their morale in the dugout.”
Ryan Krout excelled in his first start of the season. The WHS senior surrendered only one run and racked up five strikeouts in five innings pitched.
“When you have to practice in the gym, you get a little bit anxious thinking about getting back on the field,” Krout said. “This was just the perfect day to get out here.”
The Panthers staked Krout with a 7-1 lead after three innings.
“At that point, you’re just trying not to do too much,” he said. “Just get the ground balls and let the defense do the work.”
Washougal got on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Tyler Bowlin bunted for a base hit, advanced to second on a ground out, stole third base and scored on a throwing error.
Thornton doubled off the hill above the outfield in the second inning. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Brevan Bea to give the Panthers a 2-0 advantage.
Hockinson scored its first run in the top of the third. Washougal then batted around for five runs in the bottom of the third, including Hickey’s blast over the left field fence.
“The home run was nice, but this was the first time we beat Hockinson in the three years I’ve been here,” he said.
“It was a nice win. We’ve had quite a few disappointing rain outs,” Hickey added. “We’re all excited to get out of the gym and play some baseball.”
Washougal outlasted Woodland in a slugfest March 30. Both teams combined for 24 hits and 19 runs.
The Panthers scored six runs in the second, three in the fourth and two in the fifth. A four-run sixth inning helped the Beavers get within four, but they couldn’t get any closer.
Thornton drove in four, including a 3-run home run. Kaden Corbitt and Krout both had 2 RBI.
“This is something we’ve all been looking forward to,” Krout said. “We really want to make the playoffs. I think we got a good shot. I’m excited to get back out here after spring break.”
Washougal (4-1) is scheduled to host Ridgefield Monday, April 10, before going to R.A. Long Tuesday, April 11, and Columbia River Friday, April 14.
Coach Collins said this season is just getting started. More challenges lie ahead. It’s going to take a family to reach that playoff goal.
“The momentum we have right now, we just need to keep it going.”