Lady Cougs hope to heal before last playoff push

John Michaels
IVN Contributing Writer

The Illinois Valley High School softball team, decimated by injuries, wound up with the lesser part of a three game split in three Special District 6 league games against Days Creek last week. The Lady Cougars are now 10-8 on the year with a 10-5 mark in District 6 play. I.V. remained No. 15 in the OSAA 2A softball rankings.
The week started with a relatively easy walk-off 13-8 win against the Wolves in Days Creek Tuesday. The Wolves then swept Friday’s doubleheader in Cave Junction, winning the opener 15-6 before stomping the Cougars 22-2 in the nightcap.
Illinois Valley jumped on top with four runs in the top of the first in Tuesday’s single game. Morgan Melton reached on an error and stole both second and third bases. She scored on Kaylynn Thompsons’s single. Thompson moved to second on a passed ball, stole third and scored on an error. Isabelle Guzman walked and scored on Breanna Reed’s double to right. Reed came home when Megan Creek doubled to left.
After the Wolves answered with one in the bottom of the inning, Melton got it back on her own in the second. Melton walked, then stole second. She moved to third on a groundout and scored on a passed ball.
With the score 6-4 heading into the fourth, the Cougars put up three runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to take command of the game. Kaitlyn White walked to lead off the fourth. After Thompson singled, Aliyah Murphy walked to lead the bases. Guzman demonstrated patience and walked, bringing White across the plate. Reed singled, bringing in Thompson. Murphy later scored on a fielder’s choice.
The fifth began with Athena Demuth being hit by a pitch. After a fly-out, White walked. With two runners on, Thompson tripled to left center, scoring Demuth and White. Thompson then scored on a throwing error. Thompson also doubled in Melton with the Cougar’s final run in the seventh,
Thompson wound up with four hits including a double and a triple and four RBIs to lead Illinois Valley. She also scored three times. Reed went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Melton, who got credit for the win in the circle after throwing the last four innings, reached base four times, and scored three runs. Megan Creek had the other hit for the Cougars. White scored twice and had a pair of stolen bases on two walks.
On Friday, the injuries that the Cougars have been grinding through finally caught up to them. Starting pitcher Kiara Walker has been out with a knee problem that likely will require surgery later this year. Catcher Chiara Miller suffered a broken thumb and is sidelined indefinitely. The Cougars have been attempting to mix-and-match moving players to fill in various positions. The Cougars suffered through a pair of devastating losses to the Wolves. Additional game details were not passed on to the Illinois Valley News prior to press time.
The Lady Cougars are still hoping to lock down a play-off spot with three more District 6 games on the slate. Fortunately, the Lady Cougars have this week off to try to get healthy, before traveling to Bonanza next Tuesday. I.V. will host the Antlers in a doubleheader a week from Friday. Illinois Valley technically sits in third place in District 6 with a 10-5 record. They are a game up in the win column on Days Creek, but two games behind in the loss column. This puts them one-half game behind the Wolves for the second spot. The Cougars lead Glendale by one and half games for the third and final spot in the play-offs.