Lady Celt Kiana Villareal knocks a pitch to right field during McNary’s home opener with North Salem High School Friday, April 6. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The North Salem High School varsity softball hoped to make headway by pitching around Lady Celt Hailey Decker in the teams’ Central Valley Conference opener.

As the saying goes, the best laid plans often go awry. McNary won the contest 17-3.

“They pitched around Hailey and the other kids made them pay for it,” said Jeff Auvinen, McNary head coach.

The Vikings paid frequently in the game’s first two innings as the Celtics leapt out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and added ten more in the second. Jordyn Hanson, in addition to pitching three innings, had three hits and drove in four runs. Dani Saunders went 2 for 3 with with three RBIs en route to the win. Olivia Yarbrough, Paige Bouska, Saunders and Kiana Villareal all hit doubles.

“Our batting line-up is stronger than last year since we only lost one person and we have a lot of good batting and new batting coming in this year,” said Celt Beth Bello.

While North didn’t put a lot of pressure on McNary defensively, Bouska said the team is getting ever stronger in the field.

“Our defense is the strongest it’s been this season,” she said.

The win brought the Celts to an undefeated 8-0 record for the season. Prior to the game with North Salem, the Lady Celts picked up an 10-3 win over West Linn High School.

Four was the magic number for two of the Celtics: Decker and Bouska.

“Hailey and Paige went 4 for 4 with four runs apiece. Hailey had two doubles and two singles and Paige had three singles and a triple. Hailey had three RBIs,” Auvinen said. “They carried us offensively and Jordyn pitched the whole game and it ended up a nice win against a pretty decent team.”

All of it moves the team a bit closer to Auvinen’s target of consistency throughout the game.

Bouska said leadership has risen throughout the ranks of the team, which has helped improve confidence, which the team will need as it faces tougher and tougher opponents.

“We have a lot of strong hitters, but all of us could be great hitters with a little more confidence,” she said.

“We just have to take it one day at a time, like Auvinen always says,” added Bello.

Auvinen himself has high hopes for the team, but knows the biggest challenge will be sustaining the focus necessary to continue the streak.

“We just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing,” he said. “I think we’re a team that can beat anybody as long as we keep our heads in the game.”