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Skyview softball team takes down Battle Ground to stay undefeated

Maddie Milhorn strikes out 12 and plates two runs for Skyview in rematch of Class 4A state tournament quarterfinals

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
2 Photos
Clouds hang overhead as Skyview sophomore Maddie Milhorn pitches the ball Wednesday, April 12, 2023, during the Storm's 4-0 win against Battle Ground at Fort Vancouver High School.
Clouds hang overhead as Skyview sophomore Maddie Milhorn pitches the ball Wednesday, April 12, 2023, during the Storm's 4-0 win against Battle Ground at Fort Vancouver High School. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

There’s no such thing as a sophomore slump on the Skyview softball team.

The Storm have eight second-year players to account for nearly half of this year’s roster, and the group had their fingerprints all over Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Battle Ground at Fort Vancouver High School.

Maddie Milhorn struck out 12 batters in a complete-game shut out, while also providing two of Skyview’s four runs on a solo home run and RBI single in the sixth. Layla Royle followed with a two-RBI base hit to put the game out of reach.

Not to be overshadowed, the Storm’s defense led by infielders Emma Kaufman, Addy Harmier, Lainey Phillips and Jenna Stockton, a junior, played stout against Battle Ground’s small-ball approach by limiting the Tigers to three hits.

“I felt like we were really connected today,” Milhorn said, “and just going in knowing we have to play as a team because Rylee (Rehbein) is a pretty good pitcher. … Just doing the little things was important for us.”

17 Photos
A rainbow hangs above as Skyview and Battle Ground players high five after the game Wednesday, April 12, 2023, after the Storm’s 4-0 win against Battle Ground at Fort Vancouver High School.
Softball: Skyview vs. Battle Ground Photo Gallery

Milhorn, along with Battle Ground’s Rehbein, were knotted in another pitcher’s duel that often takes center stage when the two 4A Greater St. Helens League powers square off.

Rehbein, who finished with 13 strikeouts, one walk and four hits allowed in six innings, got the Tigers’ first 10 outs of the game via strikeouts.

The lone blemish was Milhorn’s solo homer in the first inning — Skyview’s only hit until the sixth.

“You just got to wait until she misses,” Milhorn said. “I feel like my first at-bat, she threw me a change-up and it was a little bit inside. Just being ready for the opportunity is important.”

The Tigers forced two quick ground outs against Skyview in the bottom of the sixth, but the Storm got two runners on base thanks to a walk earned by Harmier and a Maddi Scull single.

That set up Milhorn to find a gap between first and second base for an RBI single. Royle delivered the dagger, a two-run single to score Scull and pinch runner Kayla Lester.

“My first at-bat, I struggled off a couple foul balls (and) struck out,” said Royle, also Skyview’s starting catcher. “You just got to have the mindset of flush it, you’ll get the next one. And even if you fail again, just get the next one. That’s the mindset you have to have.”

The game was the first time the 4A GSHL foes played since last year’s Class 4A state tournament quarterfinals, where Skyview claimed a 2-1 win on the way to a second-place finish. Battle Ground took third place.

As such, the matchup is a quality benchmark for both teams this early in the season. Despite the shut out, the Tigers (5-3, 1-2) gained confidence by consistently putting balls in play against Milhorn and making the Storm play defense.

“In the past, we’ve had a tough time putting the ball in play against (Milhorn),” Battle Ground coach Jeremy Barr said. “We played a lot of small-ball early so the girls would see the ball coming off the bat, and they did. We’ll see how that plays out for us moving forward.”

The Tigers’ best scoring chance came in the top of the sixth. Leadoff hitter Hailey Ferguson, who earlier battled Milhorn to an 11-pitch at-bat to open the game, hung tough against Skyview’s ace again and was rewarded with a base hit.

A fielder’s choice gave Battle Ground its second out, which brought up Rehbein, the Tigers’ top slugger. Yet as soon as she stepped into the box, Skyview coach Kim Anthony signaled for an intentional walk against Rehbein, much to the chagrin of the Tigers.

Milhorn struck out Battle Ground’s next batter to strand two runners.

“I’ll be honest with you, when we got to get a kid on ahead of Rylee there, in my mind I was really hoping they weren’t going to intentionally walk her there,” Barr said.

“Kim did the smart thing because Rylee hits the daylights out of the ball and she’s had a lot of success with Maddie. Maddie dominates almost everybody in the state and Rylee has had a lot of success against almost everybody in the state. … I hated to see her do it, but that was good, smart strategy.”

Undefeated Skyview (8-0, 3-0) has plenty of big-game experience despite having 11 underclassmen on the roster. Four freshmen, now sophomores, were full-time varsity players on last season’s runner-up team.

After adding an additional four sophomores to this year’s team, and a talented freshmen class of Taylor Lies, Maya Figueroa and Malea Figueroa, the Storm have found another successful formula.

“Adjusting to our other players’ attitudes, what they’re good at, their skills, it definitely took some practice and some team bonding,” Royle said. “But same as last year, once we got in the groove, nothing can stop us.”

SKYVIEW 4, BATTLE GROUND 0

Battle Ground 000 000 0—0 3 0

Skyview 100 003 x—4 4 2

Battle Ground

Pitching — Rylee Rehbein 6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 13 K, 1 BB; Highlights — Hailey Ferguson 2-3; Rylee Rehbein 1-2.

Skyview

Pitching — Maddie Milhorn 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 12 K, 1 BB; Highlights — Maddi Scull 1-3, R, Maddie Milhorn 2-3, R, 2 RBI, HR; Layla Royle 1-3, 2 RBI.

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