By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
Batting leadoff, Nadia Witt said she was just trying to get on base.
The McNary center fielder did more than that, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored as the Lady Celts shut out Cleveland 10-0 on Thursday, March 16 to open the 2017 softball season.
“We played a lot better than I expected,” Witt said. “I wasn’t expecting us to play bad but we played really good and we all communicated well and just played as a team.”
McNary sophomore Faith Danner pitched all five innings, recording six strikeouts and no walks. She allowed seven hits but only four got out of the infield.
“I was focused on hitting my spots, no matter what was behind me,” Danner said. “I was hitting the corners pretty good. I wasn’t throwing a lot down the middle.”
Freshman outfielder Alexa Cepeda, who hit second in the Lady Celts lineup, claimed she was nervous before her first high school game. But it didn’t show as Cepeda went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two RBI.
“My first at bat, I was kind of shaking but I think I got them (nerves) out,” Cepeda said. “She was pitching outside so I tried to take it the other way.”
Witt and Cepeda’s bats sparked McNary early. After Witt doubled to leadoff the bottom of the first inning, Cepeda roped a double of her own down the third base line to knock in Witt for the Lady Celts first run of the season.
With two outs in the bottom of the second, Witt and Cepeda did the same and their back-to-back doubles gave McNary a 5-0 lead.
“She gets on a lot and she has wheels, the kid can fly,” McNary head coach Kevin Wise said of Witt. “And that’s what you want as a leadoff hitter. You want someone who is aggressive, who is going to push the issue. And then Alexa, I mean that kid for a freshmen, she already hits like she’s an upperclassman. She can hit and she can slap so we’ve got the best of both worlds.”
First baseman Haley Ebner singled to bring home Cepeda to give the Lady Celts a 6-0 lead after two innings. McNary added four more runs in the third.
Danner was 2-for-2 with a walk while courtesy runner Sabello Alfaro scored two runs. Emma Kinler and Nicole Duran both had RBI singles. Freshmen Kendyl Jennings and Haley Bingenheimer both had a hit and scored a run in their first game.
“One thing I like about our lineup, all up and down, we don’t really have a weak spot this year,” Wise said. “We’ve got kids who can hit one through nine. Last year, we lost to this team 13-17 so to have us come out and play like this, especially when you look and we had one senior on third base and four freshmen starting today. I’m really happy with this start. It’s good. I couldn’t be happier.”