By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School varsity softball team snapped a two-game losing skid with a win over Sprague High School Monday, April 28.
The Lady Celts’ Megan Ulrey pitched a five-inning, four-hit shutout as McNary marched to a 12-0 win.
A pair of three-run innings to start the game and a six-run fourth sounded the death knell for the visiting Olys. Freshman Nicole Duran led the team at the dish going 3 for 4 with a double, four RBIs and a run scored.
“One hit seems to be all it takes for this team to get started,” said Lady Celt Kiana Villarreal.
Prior to the win, the Keizer team had endured two losses to the Central Valley Conferences’s other top teams, South Salem and West Salem high schools.
In the game with the Titans Friday, April 25, the Lady Celts had to claw their way back from a 6-2 deficit, but a three-run sixth inning wasn’t enough for them to come out on top. McNary lost 6-5.
The Celts were first to the board as Jordyn Tutor scored on a Hannah Carr double in the top of the second, but West took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the frame.
“It came down to hitting and West got the ones they needed when they needed it,” said Dani Saunders, a McNary senior.
Saunders sent a solo shot over the left field fence in the top of the third to even the game 2-2. The Titans scored on an error at home plate to take back the lead 3-2 in the bottom of the third.
Three runs in the bottom of the fourth gave West a comfortable 6-2 lead. In the top of the sixth, Villarreal got things started with a single. She was replaced by Tutor as pinch runner and Megan Ulrey advanced her to second base on a single.
A double by Madi Oliver plated Tutor and put Ulrey on third. A double by Carr scored Ulrey and put Oliver on third. Oliver got caught off the base, but Duran hit a single to score Carr from second. By the end of the inning, the score was tighted to 6-5, but McNary went down in order in the seventh.
Carr had the best day at the plate, going 3 for 3 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored.
Strong defense against the Saxons helped McNary keep runs off the board, but the Celtic offense never found its legs in a 4-0 loss Wednesday, April 23.
McNary got only two runners on base in the seven-inning game. Saxon Katie Donovan retired McNary 12 batters from the circle.
“We didn’t have the hitting we needed, but we were a lot better on defense this time around holding them to four runs,” Saunders said. The last time McNary met South, the Saxons cruised to a 12-0 rout.
The Lady Celts scored in all five innings of its contest with North Salem High School, Tuesday, April 22. North got two runs across the plate in the first inning, but Ulrey and Oliver combined to hold the Vikings to one hit.
On offense, the Celtics’ biggest inning was a five-run fourth. Saunders homered over the center field fence to kick things off. After Kinsey McNaught flied out to shortstop, Kimi Ito got on base with a single. Villarreal doubled to score Ito and Kailey Fritts went in as pinch runner. A single by Ulrey moved Fritts to third and Madi Oliver plated Fritts and Ulrey on a single to left field. Oliver scored on an error by North.
Villarreal homered in the bottom of the fifth to end the game early.
Oliver went 3 for 3 on the day with two doubles, three RBIs, and two runs scored. Villarreal went 3 for 4 with three RBIs and a run scored.
Villarreal said the team needs to bring the same intensity to defense as it has to offense for more consistent results.
“We’re good in the dugout during offense, but we’re not as present on defense. Talking more on the field would change that,” she said.