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Wilkin’s return to action lifts Astoria softball

Maddie Wilkin returned to the mound at just the right time for Astoria softball.

Wilkin had missed the last two weeks with an injury, and was making her first start since the early season. Her return could not have come at a better time. The Astoria Fishermen are against highly-ranked teams in the 4A division in upcoming games and will need all hands on deck.

Maddie Wilkin

Astoria pitcher Maddie Wilkin throws the ball early in the game against St. Helens on Tuesday.

Behind Wilkin’s 17 strikeout and one-hit performance, Astoria softball came from behind against previously unbeaten St. Helens High School, drawing first blood in the Cowapa League race. The Fishermen fell behind 2-0, and didn’t pick up a hit until the sixth inning. However, the team found a way to pull out the 3-2 victory in a thrilling game at CMH Field on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s obviously a huge victory for us,” Astoria head coach Kent Israel said. “Our full team just got back together, a lot of girls have been sick and we’ve had some kids gone. Maddie hasn’t been feeling good, but she came in and threw awesome for being injured. She threw a heck of game.

“St. Helens is a heck of a team, they were undefeated. The Cowapa League is going to be tough with us, St. Helens and Scappoose, we’re all right there with each other.”

Awesome doesn’t even sum up the performance Wilkin put in on Tuesday afternoon. She struck out the first 10 batters she faced, and gave up just one hit to St. Helens’ Addy Ellis in the third inning. Wilkin threw a total of 128 pitches and pitched eight innings.

The Fishermen were facing St. Helens’ top pitcher, Ava Eib. Eib struck out 14 batters in her own right and dazzled with a wide array of pitches that had the Fishermen behind for most of the game.

It took Nayomi Holmstedt in the bottom of the sixth inning to break up Eib’s no-hitter. Holmstedt started what ended up being a two-run rally for the Fishermen.

Wilkin and catcher Fionna Duryea had the key hits to drive in runs during the rally. Hailey Svensen and Eib engaged in a heavyweight battle to start the bottom of the eighth. Svensen fouled off multiple pitches with two strikes to work a walk. Holmstedt then laid down a perfect bunt to reach base, and Shelby Bruney sent St. Helens back home with their first loss on an RBI single.

“The girls adjusted to what Ava was doing after seeing her a couple times throughout the game,” Israel said. “Hailey Svensen, to start the eighth off, was one heck of a battle for a walk. I don’t know how many pitches she saw. Then Nayomi getting the hit and Shelby driving her in, the girls just adjusted. She’s a super good pitcher and I think we did really well.”