Try as they may, opponents have attempted to knock off the Skyview softball team in multiple ways, but the Storm still stand unscathed.
Battle Ground gave Skyview its latest test by holding a potent Storm lineup in check and leading 1-0 through the middle innings Friday.
In an all-too-familiar story, the Storm made an uncomfortable position look winnable.
Jenna Stockton’s solo home run in the top of the seventh inning broke a 1-1 tie and Maddie Milhorn (17 strikeouts) fanned two of the Tigers’ final three batters to push Skyview over the top for a 2-1 win, its 12th straight to start the season. On the heels of last Friday’s walk-off home run by Addy Harmier against Class 2A Ridgefield, Skyview has won two of its last three with go-ahead homers.
“I was down, I was tired but I told myself, ‘my team needs it, my team needs the energy, I have to keep rallying, I have to keep it up,’” Stockton said. “So I think just keeping the energy up in between innings was a big thing.”
Uncharacteristically, Skyview committed four infield errors across the first five innings, including a costly one in the third inning that allowed Battle Ground’s Hailey Ferguson to move to third base after getting a base hit. Ferguson, who led the Tigers with two hits, scored on a passed ball to put Battle Ground ahead 1-0.
“Defensively, we were just not helping Maddie out,” Skyview coach Kim Anthony said. “We talk about, when we play teams like Battle Ground, the game is hard — it’s the way it should be — and to embrace the hard. … We just had to keep talking through that and just believing.”
In the fifth, Skyview got two runners on with a walk and Samantha Groesbeck single, setting up Milhorn for a game-tying RBI single to center field.
The Tigers loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning with a Candice Adams single, an error and Ferguson drawing a walk against Milhorn. The Skyview ace proceeded to punch out the next two batters, denying Battle Ground a scoring opportunity.
“They’re just some good ballplayers,” Anthony said, “and (we’re) good one through nine and coming off the bench. We feel like anyone through the lineup on any day can be the hero.”
The role belonged to Stockton on Friday.
She got a pep talk from teammates Reese Purdue and Layla Perdue prior to her seventh-inning at-bat. She faced Battle Ground pitcher Rylee Rehbein, a family friend who will soon be college teammates with Stockton’s older sister, Riley Stockton, at Montana.
“I was like, I know her pitch, this is going to be my third time seeing her, I know what she’s throwing,” Stockton recalled. “I’m going low in the zone and if I see it, I’m swinging.”
Stockton saw the pitch and “swung with everything I had.” Initially, she didn’t think the ball had enough on it to clear the fence.
“Then rounding first, I saw it go out and I was so excited,” Stockton said. “I started shaking. … I was so excited.”
Thw win moves Skyview (12-0, 4-0 4A Greater St. Helens League) a step closer in its pursuit for a league title. Union (6-2, 3-1) and Battle Ground (6-4, 1-3) currently occupy second and third with two league games remaining for each team.