By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
If history is any indicator of future progress, then the McNary High School varsity softball team is exactly where Head Coach Kevin Wise wants it to be.
On Tuesday, May 20, McNary drew the Lake Oswego Lakers in the play-in round for the second time in as many years. Last year, it was a game that sparked a Celtic run to the playoff quarterfinals.
“They came here and we got it going last year. This team is good enough that if we get on a roll it’s going to take a really good team to stop them,” Wise said.
McNary wasted little time in making a statement. After a 10-run first inning, the Lady Celts ran up the score to 16-1 and ended the game in four-and-a-half innings.
Kimi Ito and Kinsey McNaught had three RBIs each in the game. McNaught’s day included a double and a triple. The win means McNary will face Newberg High School at home Monday, May 26.
The Celtics’ regular season ended with a loss to 15-5 loss Sprague High School Friday, May 16. The two teams each had one win in the series before squaring off a final time, but a disastrous defensive stand that included 13 errors allowed the Olys to score 15 runs on six hits. An illness sidelined one of the Keizer team’s infielders, and put a number of Lady Celts in unfamiliar roles.
“We kept piling on errors instead of building on the positive things,” said Lady Celt Madi Oliver.
A four-run first inning was the best for one for McNary. Freshman Hannah Carr reached first on an error plating Ito and Oliver for a 2-0 lead. A single by Nicole Duran helped Kiana Villarreal and Carr score finish their circle of the bases and put the team up 4-0.
“We started off well and then we had two outs with nobody on and then all of the sudden we couldn’t catch a break,” Wise said.
Sprague answered with two in the bottom of the frame, and were up 8-4 before McNary got its final run in the third. Oliver scored on a Duran single in that inning. Five Oly runs in the bottom of the fifth ended the game under mercy rules.
“It was hard to take stock as it was happening, but I realized later we had an infield with three freshmen, a sophomore and two juniors, not many teams could put a team that young an infield in a varsity setting and still battle, but we did,” Wise said.
Duran had the best day at the dish going 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Oliver’s day included a double. Junior Megan Ulrey took the loss in the circle.
One day prior, Thursday, May, 15, McNary took a 7-4 win over North Salem High School.
The Lady Vikings pieced together their four runs over four innings while McNary packed all of its offense into two innings.
“North has gotten a lot better each time we faced them,” Wise said. “This time, they battled and played to our weaknesses every chance they got.”
Ulrey reached first base on an error in the bottom of the third giving Oliver time to score. Duran doubled scoring Carr, but Villarreal was caught at home plate ending the inning.
Kailey Fritts and Jordan Tutor scored on a ground out by McNaught in the bottom of the fourth frame. Oliver scored on a walk. Carr scored on an error that allowed Duran to reach first, and Villarreal scored on an error by the Vikings’ pitcher.
Carr went 2 for 4 with two runs scored. McNaught went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. Ulrey took the win in the circle with two runs on three hits and and five strikeouts.
The test for the team in the coming week, said Oliver, will be whether it can overcome its own self-doubt.
“We have to go out on the field confident every game, and build on the positive energy that creates,” she said.