Lady Cougars off to a good start

John Michaels
IVN Contributing Writer

The Illinois Valley High School softball team had a very busy and mostly successful week, winning all three Special District 6 league games, but dropping a non-league tilt Wednesday. The Lady Cougars are now 3-2 on the year with a 3-0 mark in District 6 play.
The week started and ended with conference games against the Chiloquin Panthers. I.V. swept the season series from Chiloquin with a 15-0 win on Tuesday followed by 16-0 and 17-2 drubbings Friday.
I.V. jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Tuesday’s opener when Morgan Melton singled and Kiara Walker and Kaylynn Thompson both walked. All three eventually scored on either wild pitches or passed balls from the Panthers’ battery.
The Lady Cougars made it 9-0 after two by scoring six runs in the second inning. A double by Isabelle Podoll was followed by Melton’s second single of the game. The Cougars continued to have runners reach base by walk, error or hit by pitch, scoring four runs without the benefit of any more hits. I.V. collected its final runs of the inning when Isabelle Guzman hit a two-run single. Guzman then left the base too early to record the first out, after six runs had scored.
I.V. added six more runs in the third inning, ending the game early. Walker, Chiara Miller and Megan Creek collected hits in the inning. The game ended when Creek scored the 15th run, making the score 15-0 and invoking the 15-run rule.
Melton and Podoll both collected two hits in the game, Melton scored twice, Podoll once. Walker had one hit but walked twice and scored three times. Thompson reached base all three times and scored three runs. Miller had one hit but was hit by pitch twice and scored twice. Guzman walked twice in addition to her hit.
Walker pitched all three innings holding Chiloquin scoreless and hitless. She struck out four, but walked three and hit one.
The doubleheader against the Panthers on Friday was pretty much a repeat of the Tuesday game. In the opener, the Cougars scored eight runs in the first inning and eight more in the second before being blanked in the third on the way to a 16-0 win.
Thompson was the catalyst in this game, going 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and a pair of RBIs. But most of the Cougars got in on the action as Melton was 1-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and three RBIs and Podoll went 1-for-2 with a triple and a walk, scored twice and had 3 RBIs. Mikayah Murphy had a double, scored two runs and had a single RBI, while Miller reached base all three times with a hit, a walk and a hit by pitch. She scored twice and had an RBI. Guzman also had a single, scored and had an RBI.
Walker once again picked up the win in the circle, pitching three innings while allowing just two hits and fanning five. She only issued one walk.
In the nightcap, I.V. scored 14 runs in the first inning, with the first eight batters in the line-up all reaching base and scoring. The Cougars added three more in the second inning before being blanked in the third. When the Panthers could only scratch across two runs in the third inning, the mercy role was invoked for the third time in three games and I.V. came home with a 17-2 win.
Emilee Jones led the Lady Cougars in the second game, going 3-for-3 with a double, a run scored and five RBIs. Other I.V players had significant contributions at the plate. Thompson went 2-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored, while Creek also went 2-2 with a walk, scored twice and had an RBI. Melton did not get a hit, but walked three times and scored twice while Miller doubled, had two walks, scored three times and had three RBIs. Murphy doubled, scored twice and knocked in three. Guzman had a hit, two runs scored and an RBI. Finally, Breanna Reed doubled and had a pair of RBIs.
Melton picked up the pitching win in the game, tossing three innings of four hit ball, one of the two runs she gave up was earned. She struck out four and walked one in her pitching debut this year.
On Wednesday, Illinois Valley hosted Oakland in a non-league tilt and dropped an 18-17 decision to the Oakers. The game may have turned out differently if IV’s Walker not suffered from an ongoing knee injury and had to leave the game.
The Cougars scored twice in the first inning and five more in the second to take a 7-0 lead after two innings. But Walker aggravated an existing knee injury and as a precaution, was removed from the game by IV coach Justine Johnson.
The Oakers proceeded to score 11 runs in the third inning. Illinois Valley rallied to tie the score with four runs in the bottom of the third. Walker returned to pitch the fourth, giving up one run, but was involved in a defensive collision in the inning and was once again pulled, this time for the remainder of the game.
The Oakers scored three runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and another single run in the seventh, building an 18-14 lead at that point. IV rallied for three runs in the bottom of the second and had Melton on second base as the tying run in the seventh. Unfortunately, the rally ended there and the Lady Cougars were left wondering what could have been.
Thompson, Guzman and Reed each had two hits in the loss. Guzman had a double and a single, walked once and had 3 RBIs. Thompson had a pair of singles and a pair of walks and scored four times. Reed scored twice. Other Cougars collecting hits and significant contributions included Melton with a triple, two walks and three runs scored, Walker, who scored three times after reaching base on two walks and a hit by pitch and Murphy who was 1-for-4 but was also hit by a pitch and had an RBI. Miller and Creek also collected singles. Miller reached base three other times via walk and scored twice.
The Lady Cougars will be busy again this week during Spring Break. Illinois Valley was scheduled to host the Lowell Devils in a non-league doubleheader on Monday, and then they are scheduled to travel to Oakland for a non-league single game on Thursday. Next Monday the Cougars will host Klamath Union in a non-league tilt before traveling to Riddle Tuesday for a District 6 single game.