COOS BAY — Sterling Williams didn’t think she had it.
Her high fly ball down the left field line, she thought, was hooking foul. But she caught it square, limiting its hook, and it sailed over the fence for a grand slam, part of a 14-run second inning and an 18-8 win over Cottage Grove in Marshfield’s Sky Em League softball debut on Tuesday.
Marshfield's EmmaLee Schaefer tags Cottage Grove's Samantha Ostrander out at home plate Tuesday in Coos Bay.
“It’s good to have our feet under us going into league play, and especially going into playing Marist on Friday,” Marshfield coach Brooke Toy said. “Just really excited about how well we played today.”
Williams had five RBIs, all in that huge second inning, in her first game back since breaking her wrist while riding a horse.
Her grand slam came on her second swing of the season. Her first at-bat, in Marshfield’s two-run first inning, Williams got plunked on the first pitch she saw, then got stranded at third.
An inning later, Williams fouled one off before launching her grand slam, a bomb for her first hit of the season.
“It was inside and I just got around on it,” Williams said. “It felt really good.”
That second inning was interminable and set Marshfield on the path to a 1-0 start in league play.
After Jorney Baldwin stranded a Lion at third in the top of the first, Cedar Ward singled in a pair in the bottom half to give Marshfield a 2-0 lead.
Baldwin went clean in the top of the second, then Marshfield’s offense exploded.
“We’ve been inside four days, five days now,” Toy said. “It’s been a little discouraging. We’ve been trying to work hard and we’ve done a lot of talking. We had a little pow-wow, spending time going over plays, and hopefully that carries over when we hit the field.”
It did in the second inning.
Parker Stocker, Alaina Sullivan and Michaella Wright all had singles to start, then Dahlia Kanui-Soto walked to plate Stocker. Sierra Ward then lofted one to left field that dropped for a single and Sullivan scored. Cedar Ward then walked for her third RBI, bringing up Williams, who hammered the aforementioned grand slam.
Marshfield scored seven runs without an out, taking a 9-0 lead that was never smaller than that.
But it didn’t stop.
Sullivan singled with two outs and Karina Skurk, who got plunked two batters previous, scored from second. Wright followed with her second hit of the frame and Soto-Kanui was hit by a pitch to load the bases again.
An infield error off Sierra Ward’s bat let Sullivan score for an 11-0 lead, then Cedar Ward, Williams and Baldwin all drove in runs with singles, giving Marshfield a 15-0 advantage. Pinch-runner Kaylin Dea scored on a wild pitch some time later, and Marshfield led 16-0.
“Everyone was pretty hot today,” Williams said. “Everyone was just getting the bat around on the ball. I think they have a lot of confidence ‘cause we were up and had a good attitude.”
Cottage Grove, though, kept chipping away. Though the Lions are winless, they didn’t pack it in early but kept playing.
Cottage Grove pitcher Tayah Escobar-Richardson, who Marshfield knocked around in the second, started the third with a single and Taylor McVey added a single as well.
An out later, Cassidy Humphery drove in a run with a single, then another out later Chelsea Davis blooped one into right field.
But Wright in right didn’t panic with runners at second and third. She came up firing and nabbed Humphery at the plate with a perfect throw, ending the inning and holding Cottage Grove to just a pair in the inning.
“That was perfect,” Toy said. “I was very happy with that because (Wright) struggled a little bit knowing where to go with the ball, and she had that in her head from the beginning that she was gonna throw home. You could tell that.”
Marshfield added a run in the fourth when EmmaLee Schaefer hammered a single up the middle and later scored on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded.
But Cottage Grove didn’t quit, again.
The first four Lions reached base in the top of the fifth, with Chloe Malmstedt and McVey both singling and Kailey Cox hitting a triple and driving in both.
An out, immediately followed by an error, let Cox score, cutting the Marshfield lead to 17-6, then Taylor McKay walked with two outs. Alicia Humpheries then got hit by a pitch, and Peyton Baird singled, which wouldn't have scored either runner, but a bad throw in from the outfield did, getting Cottage Grove within nine at 17-8 and forcing Marshfield to bat again.
But it wasn’t a terrible thing. Marshfield got some experience playing for a single run, something that could become important in later games.
Soto-Kanui walked to start the bottom of the fifth, stole second and third, then scored on an error on a grounder off Sierra Ward’s bat, sending everyone home with more rain threatening.
Marshfield visits Marist Catholic on Friday for a twin bill starting at 3 p.m. The Spartans shut out Siuslaw 11-0 in their league opener.
“I’m excited for the competition,” Williams said. “Marist and Junction City are pretty good, and I’m excited to go up against them.”