INDEPENDENCE — The Central High School Panthers only picked up a total of two runs in their second preseason game against Hillsboro High School on Monday afternoon, losing 13-2.
The Spartans (0-0 overall, 3-0 Northwest Oregon Conference) opened the game with energy that was unmatched by the Panthers (0-0 overall, -1 Mid-Willamette Conference), who has won their last two games: 13-4 a South Salem and 7-1 at Newberg.
As the Spartans tallied up runs, the Panthers trailed farther behind until freshman Payton Foreman put them on board with her first homerun of her high school career.
“Any game on any given day, you never what the outcome’s going to be,” said head coach Amber McClean. “It’s who shows up that day, and (the Spartans) did today.”
She said nerves were also probably a factor in the team’s performance.
“I think we had a lot of first home game jitters,” she said. “We had way too many errors, which you can’t afford against good teams. It was ugly, but the girls went down fighting, still putting the pressure on in the seventh inning.”
In the fifth inning, the Spartans plated four girls in a grand slam while the Panthers struggled to find their groove.
Senior Mariah Hyre said the first home game jitters did get to them tonight, among other things.
“We did not play to our potential. I just think we had a rough first inning, and then we struggled coming back from that. We just didn’t really rally, and our energy was super low too, which doesn’t help. I think what makes the difference is that we don’t know this team like we know other teams in our league, so we don’t know their habits, we don’t know their tendencies, we don’t know their pitchers. So that’s definitely different.”
A few preseason games remain until the Panthers open up league play. Thursday, they head over to North Bend, and March 25 begins the North Medford Spring Break Invite.
“That (tournament) is going to be huge,” McClean said. “We’re playing tough teams over there too, which is good. It sets us up and hopefully gets us prepared for the league.”
League play begins April 9 at West Albany at 5 p.m.