INDEPENDENCE – The Dallas High School softball team came ready to play in the second game of the Polk County rivalry series against Central High School on May 3, winning 13-1 on the Panthers’ home field.
The Dragons (14-5 overall, 9-2 Mid-Willamette Conference) were a different team this time than from their first rivalry performance, where the Panthers (10-9 overall, 7-3 MWC) clinched a 3-0 shutout on April 12.
The difference? Showing up competitively in the box.
“Honestly we just talked about playing our game,” said head coach Brandi Jackson. “And I don’t feel like (last time) we showed up and swung the bats the way we were capable of doing, and we did a lot better having quality at-bats (this time). I just told them before the game, I said ‘we have to make sure we are focusing on having quality at-bats and putting the ball at play. I don’t even care if we get a hit during the game, as long as we put it in play and good things will happen,’ and they did a much better job of doing that today, and good things happened.”
Senior Adrian Lee led the evening with four runs and two RBIs; junior Zoe Whitlow and senior Kaelynn Simmons had two runs each, with Simmons picking up four RBIs.
In the circle, she allowed five hits, one run, and struck out five.
“Simmons threw the best seven innings consecutively that she’s thrown all year,” Jackson said. “And holding them to one run is a big moment of change. When we can do that in the circle, we’ll have more confidence in the box.”
The Panthers got on board in the first inning, with senior Mariah Hyre crossing the plate off a double from junior Sydney Nash. It was the only time in the game that the Panthers would score.
In the third inning, with the Dragons in the box, senior Adrian Lee advanced to first. Simmons stepped up to the plate next, smacking the ball out of the park for a homerun, and picking up her first RBI.
In the seventh inning, Lee and Simmons both nabbed a homerun for three homeruns total.
Junior Zoe Whitlow sliced a double, and sophomore Kacey Jordan picked up a double of her own that brought Whitlow in to finish off the stanza.
“I think that we had a lot more confidence, we played our game today,” said senior Emma Classen. “We didn’t let one bad mistake affect us; we made one mistake, we came back and we fixed it. I think we were ready to play. We were excited to come back and play our game because we knew we didn’t play our game last time.”
This victory adds to the three wins the team notched onto its scoreboard last week, with an 11-1 win against Lebanon (12-8 overall, 6-5 MWC), and a 2-1, 11-0 doubleheader win at North Salem (8-9 overall, 4-6 MWC), which puts the Dragons in the No. 2 spot in league, underneath undefeated West Albany (18-2 overall, 11-0 MWC).
Central’s head coach, Amber McClean, said the Panthers lacked quality at-bats this time around.
“Dallas put on a hitting display and we didn’t,” she said. “I feel like our intensity was there. I think they just wanted to win so badly, so maybe there were a little bit of nerves. And Dallas, because we beat them the first time around, they had something to prove too, so they’re going to bring a little bit extra to this game as well.”
Nash was two-for-three at the plate.
In the circle, sophomore Emily Cole pitched six innings, giving up 16 hits, allowing 11 runs and striking out one.
This loss came after the Panthers’ 8-3 loss against West Albany on April 30, bumping them into the No. 3 spot in league.
The Dragons traveled to South Albany (5-14 overall, 4-7 MWC) on Tuesday after press time, while the Panthers traveled to Silverton (3-17 overall, 1-10 MWC) on Tuesday after press time.