By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary had no answer for McMinnville junior Payton Hudson.
In the circle, Hudson allowed just three hits as the Lady Celts fell 1-0 on Thursday, April 26.
“She’s a really good pitcher,” McNary head coach Kevin Wise said. “We tried bunting. We brought out the arsenal. They’re a solid team, good defense, good pitching. We had a couple of hits that they made good plays on, if those go half an inch or an inch the other way, maybe we get something rolling but we just couldn’t today.”
Hudson also got McNary at the plate, hitting a solo home run off the scoreboard in the top of the fourth to score the only run of the game.
“She just missed one,” Wise said of McNary pitcher Faith Danner, who allowed seven hits over seven innings. “Payton’s a good hitter. You can’t miss one to her or she’ll do that to you.”
After not threatening to score in the first three innings, McNary put two runners on in the bottom of the fourth as Taylor Ebbs reached on an error and Haley Bingenheimer walked. But Hudson got a ground ball to shortstop to get out of the inning.
After McNary shortstop Nadia Witt gunned down a runner at home to end the fifth inning, McMinnville had another chance to add to its lead in the top of the sixth.
With runners at first and second and one out, McNary chose to intentionally walk Hudson and load the bases. The decision paid off as Danner got a ground ball to shortstop for a force out at home and then another ground ball to third to get out of the jam.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Haley Ebner walked to put the tying run on base. But the Lady Celts lined out to second to end the game.
The run was the first McNary had allowed all week, after shutting out Forest Grove and South Salem, Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Our defense is playing really well,” Wise said. “Nothing to complain about.”
The Lady Celts offense had also been hot, scoring 10 runs at Forest Grove and 14 at South Salem.
“We probably used all our hits up the last couple of games,” Wise said.
Senior Emma Kinler missed all three games after suffering a concussion diving for a ball at Monday’s practice. Ebner, sat out against South Salem with a sprained wrist, but returned against McMinnville.
The loss dropped McNary to 7-3 in league play, tied with McMinnville.
“We’ve just got to keep fighting,” Wise said. “We’re still in the thick of the battle.”
The Lady Celts host West Albany, 9-1 in the GVC, Friday, May 4 at 4:30 p.m. The Bulldogs took the first game 10-0 on April 13.
“We’ve just got to play our game and not get caught up in what they’re doing and we’ll be fine,” Wise said.