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Pitcher Emily Cole focuses on the plate as she winds up for a pitch against North Salem, winning 2-1 at home.

INDEPENDENCE — The Central High School Panthers softball team opened last week with a 7-4 victory at Lebanon on April 23, followed by a 2-1 win against North Salem on April 24 to notch six wins in a row.

“It was a much closer game than I would have liked to have seen, but we pulled it off and in the end, a win is a win,” said head coach Amber McLean.

Pitcher Emily Cole said they could have been better at-bats.

“I don’t think we hit as well as we wanted to,” Cole said. “But we got the hits when we needed to, and that was good.”

The game started off with the Panthers (10-7 overall, 7-1 Mid-Willamette Conference) picking up a run in the first inning by junior Sydney Nash. Sophomore Emily Cole made quick work defensively on the mound by only allowing one hit from the Vikings and striking out the rest.

Third inning, the Panthers’ energy seemed to drop off a little, which the Vikings took advantage of by clinching one run to knot the score 1-1.

The Vikings (8-6 overall, 4-3 MWC) would have gotten more across the plate, but catcher Peyton Foreman and third baseman, senior Margaret Lippsmeyer, engaged in a pickle with a Vikings’ runner. Foreman eventually tagged her out and then whirled around to hurl the ball at senior Mariah Hyre on first base, who managed to tag out a runner caught between first and second base.

Senior Kassidy Noon clinched a run in the sixth inning to up the Panthers’ margin 2-1, securing the team’s victory.

Since preseason, the team has only seen one loss, against West Albany (15-2 overall, 8-0 MWC), currently ranked No. 1 in league. The answer to the team’s improvement is maintaining positive energy, Cole said.

“We’ve been doing a good job keeping the energy up,” she said. “That’s the thing we’ve constantly had, especially since Dallas, and I think we’ve just done a really good job doing that.”

The Panthers began their second round of teams on Tuesday, hosting West Albany after press time. Cole said they have a shot of maintaining their No. 2 spot in league.

It’s just going to take “us working together as a team, and keeping up that positive energy,” she said.

Friday, the Panthers posted a 14-0 shutout against South Albany (4-12 overall, 3-5 MWC) to add a seventh game onto their streak of victories.

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