Following consecutive losses to open the season, Kelso earned its first victory, Friday, defeating Mountain View 11-0 in five innings at Tam O’Shanter Park.
The Kelso offense was held largely at bay by Heritage and Evergreen in its first outings of the 2023 campaign where it combined to score just five runs while notching just 10 hits over 14 innings. The Hilanders generated eight hits in five innings Friday when they were more aggressive at the plate and found a groove because of it.
“Our goal was to double our hitting. We got six hits in our last game, let’s double that. Let’s make it 12 hits,” Kelso coach Dean Sorensen said. “(The girls) all came in and they were more focused on hitting today. Put the ball in play, put pressure on (the Mountain View defense) and see what they can do. Use that bat. That’s what it’s for. Especially with two strikes, anything close, put a bat on it.”
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That mantra paid dividends for the Hilanders early.
While facing a Mountain View (0-2 league) starter whose pitches had plenty of break, Kelso put the ball in play just as their coach requested. Thanks to a handful of defensive miscues by the Thunder in the first two innings, Kelso plated eight runs, including five in the second when it sent 10 hitters to the plate.
Among the offensive standouts for the Hilanders were freshman Royal Grafton who drove in three on a 1-for-3 night with a double and run-scoring groundout. Kaydence Mackin batted 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, while Maddy Wood walked twice and scored both times from the nine hole.
Though it’s her first year on the Hilanders squad, Grafton is already confident in the quality of her teammates.
“We have really strong hitters all through the lineup,” Grafton said. “I’m always confident in every one of us to get a hit and possibly get a run in if we have runners on base.”
Kelso scored three runs in the first inning after Hannah Currence and Mackin each reached on Thunder fielding errors in attempts to make the out at first base. Grafton made Mountain View pay with her double to right field, which probably should have been caught by the right fielder, but instead found grass.
In the second inning, senior Lexi Grumbois delivered the big hit with an RBI-triple to score Wood. Mackin followed with an RBI-single and the Hilanders added two more on a wild pitch and Grafton’s groundout.
Kelso took an 8—0 lead into the third inning. It was more than enough support for Mackin who started the game and was nearly perfect inside the circle against the Mountain View batting order.
In her second appearance in the circle for Kelso in the team’s third game of the young season. Mackin yielded one hit to the 10 batters she faced. She struck out one and did not walk a hitter.
“It was a little bit different than the last few games we’ve had. (Mountain View) was a little bit less aggressive than the past two teams (we played),” Mackin noted. “I had to be a little more tighter and I couldn’t throw as many movement pitches.”
Mackin was lifted in the fourth inning as coach Sorensen felt confident enough in his team’s 11-0 lead to turn to freshman Kylie Killett for her debut inside the circle for the Hilanders.
Killett, well, pretty much killed it in her varsity debut. She threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out three and hitting a batter.
Kelso has several big games coming up in its second week versus the likes of W.F. West, Skyview and Prairie and coach Sorensen hopes finding time early in the season to get newcomers some experience will pay off down the road. As much as the team will rely on senior Mackin and her sister Paityn Mackin in the circle, it’s always good to know you have other arms to turn to in a pinch.
Against the Thunder, Killett showed her coach she can be relied upon.
“We’re pretty impressed with what she did. It’s nice to have a freshman be in the groove coming up through the ranks,” said Sorensen. “She came in and threw strikes. I think she only walked one and had three strikeouts in two innings.”
Mountain View threatened in the top of the fifth as it attempted to avoid the 10-run rule. Aliyah Liams doubled with one out off Killett and Ashley Rubio delivered a two-out single. Rubio stole second to put runners on second and third, runs that would have forced a full game had they scored.
Killett though, showed her mettle by focusing on the next hitter who she got ahead of 1-2 in the count and struck out.
Mountain View was limited to four hits in the game and a fifth baserunner thanks to a hit by pitch.
Kelso (1-2 league) hosts 2A W.F. West in non-league action on Monday at 4 p.m.