By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
OREGON CITY—There wasn’t a dry eye, including coaches, as the McNary softball team gathered in the outfield here after a 7-4 loss in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs on Friday, May 26.
“They love each other,” an emotional head coach Kevin Wise said. “It’s just a great group of girls. They kind of become like sisters. I think when you’re family, you fight for each other. That’s what they did.
“It’s a tough one.”
The Lady Celts led for most of the game, jumping on No. 1 Oregon City and University of Oregon-bound pitcher Morgan Hornback for a run in the first inning as Haley Ebner singled and then scored on a double by Hannah Carr.
The Pioneers tied the contest at 1-1 in the bottom of the third, drawing a walk and then laying down back-to-back bunt singles off Faith Danner, who didn’t allow a ball out of the infield until there were two outs in the fourth.
McNary broke the contest open in the top of the fifth.
After Sabella Alfaro doubled, Ebner brought her home with a two-out single to right field.
Taking advantage of an error, Ebner and Nadia Witt then scored on a ground ball by Carr that went through the shortstop’s legs and rolled all the way to the fence to give the Lady Celts a 4-1 lead.
Danner retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the fifth before the game began to slip away from McNary. A walk and RBI double got Oregon City within 4-2.
After hitting a batter, Danner got a fly ball to right field. However, a charging Alexa Cepeda couldn’t make the catch and two more runners scored, tying the game at 4-4.
Danner then got a ground ball back to the pitcher but she couldn’t field it cleanly and the runner beat the throw to first. The Pioneers then added a RBI single to take a 5-4 lead.
“Defensively, we kind of knew they (Oregon City) were a little weak and they made some errors,” Wise said. “But unfortunately we did, too.”
Haley Bingenheimer reached on another Oregon City error in the top of the sixth but didn’t get any farther than first base.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, the Pioneers scored two more runs on a triple.
With one out in the seventh, Cepeda singled to give McNary hope. However, Ebner struck out swinging and Cepeda was then picked off first base to end the game.
Hornback, who had 25 strikeouts through the first two rounds of the playoffs, added eight more against McNary.
The Lady Celts were able to record six hits.
Ebner was 2-for-4 with two runs and a RBI. Witt, Cepeda, Carr and Alfaro each had a hit as well.
Wise said he received a scouting report regarding Hornback from West Salem head coach Ty Nicholson. The Titans played her in the second round of the playoffs. Several Lady Celts had also hit against Hornback during summer ball.
“The thing about this team is they’re not afraid of anybody, no matter who they’re facing,” Wise said.
“So we worked really hard on a game plan. We knew what she was going to try to do. She was going to get us to try to chase the rise. We had a good game plan and they executed it.”
Danner also allowed six hits and only three earned runs.
“Faith has done awesome for us all year,” Wise said.
“She obviously doesn’t throw as hard as the girl they have but Faith moves the ball around, she hits her spots. I’d take Faith any day. Faith is the same kind of kid, nothing really rattles her. We kind of figured out what their hitters were going to do and we tried to work that and she did a great job with it.”