Smith dominant in rout of Astoria
The Tigers (11-7) beat Astoria (6-14) 10-0 in five innings Tuesday, which was led by a near-perfect performance by Smith. The win gave Yamhill-Carlton its 10th win in 12 games. It also gave the Tigers the series sweep over the Fishermen. In their three games this season, Yamhill-Carlton outscored Astoria 44-0.
Yamhill-Carlton coach John Kuehnel scratched Smith from the lineup on April 9, a crucial Cowapa League game vs. Banks, due to moderate shoulder soreness. Since that loss to the Braves, Smith returned to the circle and has gone 9-2.
“No it was really a one-time thing,” Kuehnel said of Smith’s missed outing. “I’ve really tried to monitor that since then. We pitched her hard recently at Banks. She went both games, and I was really worried about that. She’s strong, so that gives (me) more confidence.”
Smith said she’s been making sure to take care of her arm, but isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary.
“(Missing the Banks game) was a one-time thing,” Smith said. “I’ve been icing and it’s all back to normal. I’m also taping my arm. It keeps my muscles tight and keeps my arm warmer.”
Smith showed no signs of laboring as she went the full five innings, struck out 11, gave up two walks and no hits. For her work, Smith received a ton of run support.
Madisyn Babcock led off the Tigers half of the first inning with a triple and scored on a wild pitch two pitches later for the 1-0 lead, and it was 3-0 by the end of the second inning.
Smith said part of her confidence in the circle is due to the Tigers offense.
“We really get timely hits most of the time,” Smith said. “We have a good ability to get runners on base.”
Smith’s most difficult inning was the fourth. After striking out leadoff hitter Mykka Abrahams, Kelsey Wullger reached second base on a throwing error to first.
After Smith fell behind 2-0 to the next hitter, Bailey Haskell, she responded by striking out Haskell and Brittany Hankell to end the inning. Wullger was the only Astoria player to reach base in the game.
Kuehnel said when Wullger reached and Haskell was ahead in the count, he began to worry about Smith’s shoulder and considered pulling her from the game after the fifth inning.
At the time, Yamhill-Carlton was up 7-0 and was headed for the full seven innings.
“That was going to be her last inning,” Kuehnel said. “I was going to have Emily (Drevdahl) pitch the last two innings if that’s what it was going to take.”
Kuehnel said Yamhill-Carlton focuses on one aspect of softball per game, and tries to pound the other team with it. Tuesday’s approach was squeeze bunting, and the Tigers went to town with it in their half of the fourth inning.
Senior Chelsea Frank led the inning with a walk and stole second and third base. Kylie Pumpelly came up and bunted the ball down the first base line. The squeeze got Frank home, and Pumpelly’s speed got her a base hit.
Pumpelly reached third on two stolen bases and was squeezed in by Ember Armstrong, who was also squeezed in by Babcock. Babcock was squeezed in by McKenzie Magnuson. The Tigers produced three runs on squeeze bunts, and scored four runs in the inning and a 7-0 lead.
Smith finished her afternoon by striking out the Astoria side, in order to end the fifth inning.
Kuehnel said despite Yamhill-Carlton’s momentum, he knows the Tigers can’t catch Banks and will have to settle for second place, but that doesn’t mean Yamhill-Carlton should coast to the finish line.
“Banks is ranked No.1 (in 4A) and we’re going to finish second in our league,” Kuehnel said. “We’ve got to finish strong. We’re continuing to grow and the expectations keep getting higher. We’re ready and primed to get into the playoffs.”