By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary wasn’t at full strength for its first three softball games.

It didn’t matter.

Playing a doubleheader at Churchill on Friday, March 16, the Lady Celts opened the season with a 16-6 victory in game one.

McNary then took game two 16-4.

After the series, Churchill’s pitcher, Sarah Sheppler, a senior, told McNary head coach Kevin Wise that she was trying everything, didn’t know what else to do and had never seen a team hit like that.

Without shortstop Haley Bingenheimer, who was recovering from the flu and second baseman Taylor Ebbs, who was away on a family obligation, the Lady Celts combined for 40 hits in the two games, including 10 doubles and a home run.

Catcher Courtney Roberts was 6-for-9 with five runs, three RBIs, two doubles and a home run at Churchill. Outfielder Emma Kinler went 6-for-10 with five RBIs, two runs and two doubles.

In Bingenheimer’s absence, freshman Kate Ronning moved from third to shortstop and Nadia Witt went from center field to third. Shaylee Custer, typically an outfielder, played second in place of Ebbs.

“That’s just this group this year,” Wise said. “It’s really good because they don’t care and you can put them anywhere and they’re athletic enough that they’re going to play wherever you put them.”

McNary had 83 at-bats in the two games at Churchill and no one struck out.

Faith Danner pitched all 13 innings to earn both wins.

The Lady Celts remained hot at Cleveland on Monday, March 19, winning 11-0 in five innings.

McNary recorded 13 hits, including two doubles and two triples.

Sophomore outfielder, Alexa Cepeda, was 3-for-4 with two runs, three RBIs and two stolen bases. Nadia Witt was 2-for-4 with three runs and two stolen bases. Kinler was 2-for-3 with a double, triple and two RBIs.

“The girl (Cleveland pitcher Anna Hawking) had a decent rise and an OK curve and they hit her, too,” Wise said. “I don’t think it really matters. The ball is just looking big to them right now.”

Danner pitched all five innings, allowing four hits and striking out seven batters.