CORVALLIS — A baseball fan to the core, Janet Skaugset tossed the ball around for a few minutes with a Corvallis Knights player to prepare herself to throw out a first pitch on a warm Sunday afternoon at Goss Stadium.
“One of the players was warming me up and I didn’t know it but it was Jake Harvey of Oregon State,” said a smiling Skaugset, a big fan of the Beavers as well as the summer league Knights. “I was nervous all week but it was a lot of fun.”
Skaugset, who will be retiring this fall after 25 years working for the Philomath School District, received an invitation for the first pitch honor as part of Philomath Day at the Corvallis Knights contest. She and the rest of the fans had plenty of opportunities to cheer in a 9-1 win over Yakima Valley, the ninth straight West Coast League victory for the 20-6 Knights.
“It’s fun to watch them during the summer and see the kids come through here,” Skaugset said about the Knights. After her throw, she walked toward the plate and scooped up her 3-year-old granddaughter, Julia Preston, who had been among those on the field.
Shelley Niemann, Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce director, said this is the seventh year of the Philomath promotion at a Knights game.
“We usually have anywhere from 10 to 12 business or organization co-sponsors along with the Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce and then we get as many groups from Philomath to participate,” Niemann said about the event.
For example, the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo is one of the organizations that participates and traditionally sends its rodeo queen to throw out a first pitch. This year, the honor went to Frolic rodeo queen Mallory Stokes, a Philomath native who graduated with the local high school’s Class of 2018 and now attends Western Oregon University.
The pregame activities also included recognition for Philomath’s Junior Baseball Organization team, Mulberry Contract Cutting, which won the Valley League Junior American championship. The team, which has a 17-1 record, will be headed later this month to districts in an effort to reach state.
The players not only made appearances for team photos on the field, but helped warm up Knights players down the left-field line as the athletes took time during their pregame routine to give the youngsters special recognition.
In addition, DECK, an a cappella group made up of Philomath teachers and business owners, gathered behind home plate and sang the national anthem. The group includes Diane Crocker, Denise Johnson, Elaine Hall, Carla Kaminga, Caitlin Crowe and Krystal Rutledge.
The Knights have been among the most active organizations at various Philomath-related events in recent years.
“The Knights are huge partners in the community with many organizations, not just the Philomath chamber, but we have always had a close relationship with them,” Niemann said. “We’ve had a member of the Corvallis Knights on our chamber board ever since I started there and before I started there. We have a really good partnership with them.”