MILTON-FREEWATER — Against the Central Panthers Saturday at the Mac-Hi Invitational, the Pioneers ran into one of the most dominant pitchers they’re likely to see this season.
But Mac-Hi only had to face Emily Kenyon for five innings.
The Pioneers lost a rain-shortened contest 5-1 at the softball invitational as Kenyon looked every bit as good as advertised. A senior, Kenyon has signed to play at Columbia University in New York next year.
“So far that’s kind of how the season has been going for me,” Kenyon said. “I’ve had a lot more control of my pitches this year and hit my spots really well.”
When Kenyon missed, she tended to let the ball stray from the strike zone, but therefor out of danger. She walked three batters. Only once did she truely miss with a pitch, leaving one low-hanging fruit on the heart of the plate.
That pitch, in the fourth inning to Mac-Hi’s Megan Reed, yielded the lone hit and run on the day for the Pioneers. With one out, Reed tore into the pitch and drove it out of the park for a home run.
“I saw a pitch that was right down the middle,” Reed said. “And I knew I had to hit it and I couldn’t let it go because she wasn’t making mistakes.”
Reed, a shortstop, had fallen victim to the Panther pitcher’s dancing rise ball her last time at bat and struck out. Her second at-bat marked the only time a Pioneer knocked a ball out of the infield.
Puddles verging on lakes began to accumulate on the dirt and may have helped slow down a few balls that had a chance to make it to the outfield grass for both teams. Between innings, members of the Mac-Hi grounds crew came out to apply fresh dirt to paticularly sloppy areas and try and pack down new clay inside the pitching circle.
Their attempts only delayed the inevitable as the pitchers’ plant feet tore through the softened mud for a near-foot deep hole by the end. When the game got through a regulation five innings, the umpires waved the contest off.
Central (5-0) picked up its runs in bunches against Mac-Hi. Linzi Wallace cleared the bases for a three-run double in the third inning off Pioneers’ starter Kaitlin Erm. Then Brittney Bettles knocked in the other two with a double in the fourth for Central, which traveled from Independence, near Salem, for the softball invite.
It was the second shortened day of action from the Mac-Hi Invitational after rain dampened the ground and the spirits of teams on Friday. Weather knocked out the tournament just two innings into the first game.
Mac-Hi was slated to play a second game Saturday following the matchup with Central but with the rain only intensifying, the remaining games on the day were abandoned.
“We try and put all this together and all these teams are coming in and then the worst (weather) that it’s been in five years happens to be (this weekend),” Mac-Hi coach Nicole Christian said. “Hopefully we get better weather and more teams come back next year.”