By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
A late rally was enough to tie the game, but it took 10 innings for the McNary High School varsity softball team to put away the West Salem High School Titans for a 6-5 win.
The teams met Tuesday, April 15, at McNary in a game where the Celtics trailed 4-0 before getting on the board.
“We have a hard time controlling our defensive errors right now,” said Lady Celt Kimi Ito. “We tend to turn one error into two. What we’ve got going for us is our hitting, and I’m not worried about that at all. The freshmen contribute really well.”
The Titans pieced together their lead one run at a time, but a four-run seventh for McNary tied the game. Working on two outs, Kinsey McNaught singled to right field and Ito followed it up with an RBI-triple. A single by Madi Oliver scored Ito and a triple by Megan Ulrey scored Oliver. Ulrey scored on a single to right field by Kiana Villarreal.
West took a 5-4 lead in the top of the 10th inning, but Dani Saunders smacked a two-RBI double to centerfield scoring Sarah Jensen and Hannah Carr for the win.
After waiting for their moment to shine against West, McNary Head Coach Kevin Wise wanted them to approach a follow-up game with Sprague High School, April 16, with more energy.
“We talked about getting on Sprague early, which we did with five runs in the first. But they’re just one of those teams that keeps gnawing at your heel the whole game,” Wise said.
The barnburner of a game saw the Celts lose 13-12 in seven innings.
The Keizer team’s biggest inning was the first as McNaught scored on a double by Ito, Ito scored on a double by Villarreal, Villareal and Carr scored on a triple by Ulrey and Nicole Duran singled to score Ulrey for the 5-0 lead.
The Olys had closed the score to 7-6 by the end of the second frame, and took a 10-9 lead in the bottom of the third. Saunders scored on a Sprague error to tie the game at 10-10 in the top of the fifth, but Sprague answered with two runs of its own in the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, Saunders scored on an Ito single and Ulrey singled to drive in Ito for a 12-12 tie.
Sprague took the win on a wild pitch in their last at-bat. Errors were a problem for both teams; each racked up four.
“We have to clean up the defense and we can do it by being more focused in practice and getting things done,” McNaught said. “We have the ability to do everything cleanly, we just have to believe in ourselves.”
McNary took a 16-1 win over a rebuilding McKay team that took a hit when the team’s starting pitcher injured her hand making a grab for a line drive. McNary had at least one run in each of the game’s five innings.
Carr led the team at the plate going 4 for 4 with two RBIS, three runs scored and a home run. Ito went 3 for 4 with two RBIs, three runs scored and two triples. Nicole Duran went 2 for 2 with a run scored, two RBIs and a triple.
While the team maintains a lock on third place in the Central Valley Conference, Wise is still waiting for the girls to put together a complete game.
“If we do that, we can hang with a team like South Salem. If they limit the errors, winning will take care of itself,” he said.