By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
If the McNary High School varsity softball team set out to make a statement in its season opener, Silverton High School heard it loud and clear.
The Lady Celts had 22 hits in the 22-0 win March 18, behind a one-hitter from junior pitcher Megan Ulrey. Ulrey also had eight strikeouts.
“The score didn’t reflect it, but Silverton is a good team with five seniors, but you could see them deflate around the fifth inning,” said Kevin Wise, McNary head coach.
McNary’s line-up strung together enough hits for a 10-run third inning and eight in the fifth. Mercy rules ended the game after only five innings.
Highlights abounded for the Keizer team. In addition to her performance in the circle, Ulrey made waves at the plate going 3 for 4 with a double, a walk, an RBI and four runs scored. Freshman Nicole Duran went 4 for 5 with two doubles, two RBIs and four runs scored. Senior Dani Saunders went 3 for 4 with a home run, a double and three RBIs. Kimi Ito led the team in RBIs with four. By the end of the game, all 10 players on the McNary roster had at least one hit.
“The energy and chemistry on this team this year is amazing,” Wise said. “It’s a great thing to have and we got to see how stringing together a couple of hits becomes contagious and everyone is going up to the plate relaxed.”
The Celts had two players, Kiana Villareal and Hannah Carr, who were hitting .714 after the first week of play. Duran was hitting around .600.
“Even when we had errors, we could rely on somebody else to get us out of the jams,” Duran said.
After coasting to the win over Silverton, McNary found themselves battling back to a 4-3 win over visiting Roseburg High School Thursday, March 20.
Roseburg found success against Ulrey in the early going as she battled with control in the circle. The team led 2-0 before the Celts closed the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the third inning.
The team’s mental approach to the plate helped the team seize the day, Wise said.
“Their pitcher was consistently in the mid-60s range, but we have a team of girls who just don’t care. They step up and know they are going to get a hit,” he said.
McNary was down 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth when Villareal got a single. A single by Ulrey put runners on first and second, and set the table for a two-RBI home run by Lady Celt Madi Oliver.
Roseburg didn’t answer in the top of the seventh, letting the Celts walk away with the win and a 2-0 start.
“When one person had a bad at-bat, we were picking each other up and kept on moving,” Carr said.