McNary’s Hailey Decker slings the ball to first base in a game earlier this season. Decker’s week was highlighted by three home runs, but she found the intentional walks pitchers threw her as more of a compliment. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

As a high school junior, Hailey Decker has achieved a status that most pro baseball players only dream of – she’s become feared at the plate.

In a week that saw the Lady Celts go four for four, Decker found herself watching the early games pass her by.

“I’d never been intentionally walked so many times in a week. It was a great compliment, but I wanted to hit the ball,” she said.

While she ended up biding her time early in the week, head coach Jeff Auvinen switched Decker to leadoff hitter in the Celts’ game with West Salem and she made the most of it going four for four at the plate with two dingers, five runs and five RBIs. McNary won the game 13-4 and the girls recorded 46 at bats and loaded the bases in all but one inning.

“We got it going a bit offensively and Jordyn [Hanson] had good week for us pitching. We didn’t play real well defensively, but the pitchers picked up the slack,” Auvinen said.

Decker belted a three-run homer in McNary’s 7-1 win over the Sprague Olympians on Thurday, April 21.

Prior to the win over the Olys, McNary cranked out a 17-11 win over the North Salem Vikings. Paige Bouska went three for four with a double, three RBIS and three runs scored. Olivia Yarbrough had a double in the game.

“We were taking good opportunities on good pitches and it helped us get around the bases and score,” Yarbrough said.

One of the Celts’ few blemishes on the week was eight unearned runs on the part of the Vikings.

On Tuesday, April 19, the Lady Celts closed out a game with McKay High School on an 11-run sixth inning. Tiffany Kottek and Brook Ross combined to drive in six runs and freshman Dani Saunders hit a double in the outing.

Auvinen said he was glad to see the team showing some confidence at the plate, but it needs to achieve the same level in fielding.

“There are plays that we should make that we’re not,” he said. “But we ended up competing four days in a row and that was good to see.”

Yarbrough said better communication on the field would help.

“We need to be calling out the fence to our outfielders and know where our runners are in the infield to increase double play opportunities,” she said.

The Lady Celts are two games behind the undefeated South Salem Saxons in league play.