Mahayla Gamble had everything going for her Wednesday, both at the plate and in the circle.
The West Albany senior has picked up her offense in recent weeks and continued that with three hits, including a three-run home run in her team’s 19-0 home win against South Albany in a Mid-Willamette Conference softball game.
Gamble also struck out 12 and walked two in four innings while combining with teammate McKenzie Kosmicki on a no-hitter.
“When she’s on she’s going to carry us a long ways,” West coach Ryan Borde said. “We need her, she’s our (number) 4 hitter, and you can see what kind of damage she can do. She’s got a great swing and when it’s on she can lead us.”
Gamble had three hits in all, each leading to multiple runs scored.
Both walks were issued to Avery Martin, the RedHawks’ 4-hole hitter.
“Mahayla threw a great game. She did a great job of working in and out,” said South coach Chad Angel, whose team was coming off two straight wins. “We had some really good swings, we didn’t have a lot of good results from it. I thought we hurt ourselves a little bit. We had too many walks, too many errors.”
South’s Ellen Beasley pitched all four innings. She gave up 16 hits and six walks.
Gamble, a right-hander, said she believes her pitching is progressing well. More frequent outings with the start of conference play this week should help her get into a rhythm.
“As the games start going into this week and becoming more consistent and having more games it’s a lot easier to keep throwing more consistently,” Gamble said.
Kosmicki struck out the side in the top of the fifth to finish the game.
Borde credited the sophomore’s performance considering that she hasn’t pitched in more than a year. She took last summer off to rest, a move the coach said he fully supported.
Kosmicki broke a finger during basketball and missed the first few weeks of softball season. Her return to the circle was a welcome sight.
“We’re going to need that second pitcher … we can’t just rely on one pitcher,” Borde said. “She was really impressive. I’ve got to compliment her.”
West is 9-2 overall and 2-0 in conference heading to Silverton on Friday. South is 2-7 and 1-1 with a Friday contest at Corvallis.
Angel is in his first year as the RedHawks’ softball coach after 17 years as the varsity baseball coach during a stretch that ended in 2016.
He’s leading a squad that’s dealt with several injuries. The team is returning closer to full health, a factor he credits in wins against Wilsonville (12-10) and Silverton (2-1) in the past week.
“We’re feeling like we’re finally getting to our squad and everybody is figuring out their role. Hopefully we can keep building off of that,” Angel said. “We’re believing, we’re following the process a little bit. Once we get more comfortable with things we’ll start getting the results we’re looking for.”
South’s Morgan Maynard is recently out of a walking boot following a high-ankle sprain during basketball season. She pitched out of necessity during the team’s trip to Medford last month and the RedHawks hope to have her as a more regular contributor in the circle soon.
Angel is coaching his daughter Claire, a junior infielder, which he said has been enjoyable.
“It’s nice. It can be frustrating, too,” he said. “The balance, between coach and dad. It’s hard to not to take stuff home and be dad. I’m probably harder on her than she deserves.”
Claire Angel has two of the RedHawks’ five home runs this season. Elise Cordle has two more (one each against Wilsonville and Silverton) and Abby Sadowsky another. South had one homer in the past two seasons combined.
Chad Angel coached youth softball and is now learning as he goes in the transition.
“There’s a lot of stuff I don’t know, and I fully admit. But for the most part, you hit the ball, all the fielding stuff is the same,” he said. “The field’s smaller and it feels faster. Other than pitching it’s pretty much the same game. We’re all figuring it out together as we go.”
West, making the classification switch from 6A to 5A this school year, returns many key players that helped the Bulldogs reach the second round of the state playoffs this year.
Borde and his staff have routinely challenged their players to continue competing at a high level, playing a faceless opponent regardless of the game situation.
They’re also asking the athletes to buy into an offensive approach that involves attacking early and looking for the pitch you want to hit. Borde said he’s seen the dividends of that approach in recent games.
“We need to bring our ‘A’ game for seven innings and every inning we tell ourselves, reset that scoreboard at zero-zero,” he said.