DIXON – Emergency pitchers can be an adventure at times, especially when it comes to the consistent release point needed in the game of softball.
In her first appearance in the circle since eighth grade Tuesday afternoon against Dixon, Oregon’s Aleah Wight was more consistent than she expected. The senior tossed a complete game, allowing just one run and four hits while striking out seven in a 9-1 victory.
“I’ve been throwing a couple times in practice,” Wight said. “I was nervous, but it went better than I thought it was going to be.”
Hawks coach Jamie Revelle said that she was nervous about Wight’s inexperience, but not so much her competitive edge.
“Any time you throw a pitcher you haven’t been able to see a lot, yeah, you’re nervous,” Revelle said. “But I know who she is as a person. I knew she had grit out there.”
Wight stepped in as the Hawks’ third-string pitcher, and though she walked two batters, hit three others, and threw just 58 strikes to 42 balls, her defense had her back. Oregon (3-2, 2-2 Big Northern) committed just one error.
“It’s really nice for my first time back [in the circle] to not have to count on me,” Wight said. “I’m just trying to throw strikes and hope they can make plays. That was awesome having them behind me.”
An impressive performance in the circle didn’t take away Wight’s ability to get on base and wreak havoc at the plate. She went 3-for-4 in the leadoff spot with a double and two stolen bases, and scored after reaching base in all four of her plate appearances.
Ellie Egyed served as Oregon’s main run-producer against the Duchesses, as she went 3-for-4 and had an RBI in each her four at-bats. She also scored two runs and added a stolen base.
“They both have really solid swings,” Revelle said of Egyed and Wight, “and they have a lot of confidence.”
Dixon (0-7, 0-7) limited damage in the top of the first inning after Wight doubled, stole third, and trotted home after a bloop single into right field by Ella Martin. Duchesses pitcher Ashley Blythe had two strikeouts and induced a grounder to halt any chance of a big inning.
Blythe struck out the side in the top of the second, and finished with 12 strikeouts and just one walk in seven innings of work.
“She was hitting her spots really well,” Dixon coach Candi Rogers said of Blythe. “She tried to get the changeup going, and she worked at it. That was a solid performance by her.”
Six of the nine runs Blythe allowed were earned.
Oregon tacked on three runs in the third, as Heather Braden and Wight singled to start the inning. Egyed’s RBI groundout scored Braden, Emily Logan’s RBI single brought Wight home, and Egyed came around to score on an error.
The Hawks added two runs in the fifth, as Wight reached on an error, and Egyed singled into center field to score Wight. Sam Merrill’s bloop single into short right field scored Egyed.
Dixon scored its run in the sixth, as Marley Kessel reached base on a hit by pitch with one out. She then stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and came home on an RBI single up the middle by Taryn Munroe.
Oregon added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh, as Egyed again brought Wight home with an RBI single. Martin and Logan came in to score on a pair of Dixon errors.
The Duchesses loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half after Wight hit two batters and walked another, but two strikeouts and a popout ended the threat and the game.
“I think the pressure got to those batters,” Rogers said. “It was in their heads. We’ll go back and hopefully learn from it the next time.”
Oregon 9, Dixon 1
Star of the game: Aleah Wight, Oregon, win, 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 7 SO, 2 BB, 3 HBP, 100 pitches, 3-for-4, 2B, 4 runs, 2 SB
Key performers: Ellie Egyed, Oregon, 3-for-4, 4 RBIs, 2 runs, SB; Emily Logan & Sam Merrill, Oregon, 2 hits and an RBI each; Ashley Blythe, Dixon, 9 R, 6 ER, 12 H, 12 SO, 1 BB, 1-for-2
Up next: Rock Falls at Oregon, 4:30 p.m. today; Dixon at Rockford Christian, 4:30 p.m. Thursday