Lady Cougs are not in the boys’ shadow

John Michaels
IVN Contributing Writer

The Illinois Valley High School softball team once again had a hectic and mostly fruitful week, winning all three Special District 6 league games, but dropping a non-league tilt Monday. The Lady Cougars are now 6-3 on the year with a 6-0 mark in District 6 play. I.V. is currently ranked No. 16 by OSAA in 2A softball, but is the 11th-ranked team in the state according to the Colley system.
The week started with a non-conference loss to Klamath Union in Cave Junction Monday. Illinois Valley dropped a 28-11 slugfest to the Pelicans in a game shortened to six innings. “We are struggling with some injuries,” said Cougars coach Justine Johnson after the game. “Every team pretty much has to deal with this at some point. I’m just not really sure how we are going to overcome some of the struggles we are going through right now.”
Klamath Union broke open a close 6-4 game with I.V. leading by scoring eight runs in the top of the third inning, then broke Illinois Valley with a six-run fifth and a 10-run sixth inning.
Walks and errors played a large role in the Pelicans’ big innings. “I’m hoping we can find a way to get through these struggles. If we can cut down on our errors, we could use our bats to overcome some of the injury struggle issues. We’re scoring plenty of runs.”
Morgan Melton provided one of the bright spots for the Cougars, going 3-for-4 with a double and four runs scored. She reached base on an error the one time she did not get a hit. Kaylynn Thompson went 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored. Thompson also knocked in a trio of runs.
The rest of the week was significantly more productive for the Lady Cougars, as they swept a three-game District 6 set from Riddle. Illinois Valley dominated the series against the Irish, winning 26-2 in a 3-inning game at Riddle on Tuesday before sweeping the Friday twinbill in Cave Junction by 16-1 and 17-7 scores.
Illinois Valley jumped out to a 10-0 lead in Tuesday’s opener. Morgan Melton got the Cougars off to a quick start when she singled, and Kiara Walker doubled her home. Riddle committed two errors and walked two batters before Megan Creek singled in a pair of runs, making the score 5-0. Two walks and a fielder’s choice later, Thompson tripled making the score 9-0. Thompson then scored on a passed ball.
Emilee Jones homered to lead off the second, and IV kept scoring, tallying a total of 15 runs and hitting around through the order two full times. Illinois benefited greatly from the Irish pitching. Riddle walked 20 Cougars in the game and two others reached base after being hit by a pitch.
Melton went 2-for-4 with a walk and scored four times. Kiara Walker doubled in her only official at bat, and walked four times, scoring five times. Thompson tripled and scored three times, while Aliyah Murphy had a hit and scored three runs after being walked twice and hit by a pitch once. In addition to her home run, Jones reached on an error and walked, scoring twice.

Walker picked up the win in the circle for IV. She struck out six in three innings of work. She gave up just three scratch singles and walked one.
Friday’s double-dip was a “rinse and repeat” of the Tuesday contest, though it took the Lady Cougars a little while longer to get started in their 16-1 win in the opener.
I.V. scored one run in the initial inning before scoring four in the second, and two more in the third. Then, I.V. shortened the game with a nine run outburst in the bottom of the fourth.
Thompson opened the scoring all by herself with a walk, followed by two stolen bases before scoring on a passed ball. Five Irish walks and another Riddle error led to the Cougars scoring all five runs in the second. Isabelle Guzman tripled in a run, before scoring on a ground ball as I.V. added two runs in the third, setting the stage for the monster fourth inning.
Seven walks, a hit batter, a single hit and a dropped third strike allowed Illinois Valley to score nine-runs and end the game via the 15-run rule. Creek had a two-run single for the Cougars in the frame. Creek’s single and Guzman’s previous triple were the only two hits in the game for I.V., largely because the Cougars demonstrated great plate discipline. Illinois Valley had 16 batters get on base with a walk and four more were hit by a pitch, allowing 20 runners to reach base without swinging the bat.
Melton picked up the win in the circle for the Lady Cougars, tossing four innings and giving up an unearned run in the fourth. She gave up just one hit and walked two, while fanning three.
Illinois Valley completed the sweep with a 17-7 win in the nightcap. As in the first game, IV slowly, steadily built a lead before ending the game with a nine-run rally in the fifth.
Chiara Miller had a great game on offense for the Cougars with a pair of hits, including a two-run triple. She wound up with four RBIs and scored four times. Thompson, who got her first high school pitching win in the game, helped her own cause with three hits, including a double and a triple. She also knocked in four runs and scored twice.
Thompson blanked the Irish through the first three innings before giving up four runs in the fourth and another three in the fifth. She struck out six in the tilt.
The Lady Cougars will be busy again this week. Illinois Valley continued its league slate by hosting Lost River in a single game Tuesday. IV will then take to the road for two games, traveling to Lost River for a District 6 doubleheader this Friday. The Lady Cougars will host Glendale in a single District 6 game next Tuesday.