By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

PORTLAND—With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the first inning, McNary had a chance to jump out in front of Franklin and play with a lead in the first round of the 6A softball state playoffs.

Instead, the Lady Celts didn’t score a run and committed eight errors in the next six innings, resulting in a 9-5 loss on Monday, May 21 at Erv Lind Stadium.

“I don’t know if it would have changed it or not but it would have been nice to get two or three runs out of that first inning and be ahead,” McNary head coach Kevin Wise said. “You look at how young we were, we have a ton of freshmen and sophomores. I think those runs kind of settle them down and maybe we don’t make as many errors.”

McNary’s threat in the first ended when Emma Kinler popped up in the shallow outfield and Alexa Cepeda, trying to tag up from third, was thrown out at home.

“We’ve talked about that all year, be aggressive on the bases and eight times out of 10 it works for us and we make teams make errors,” Wise said. “And these guys have a green light on that. They know their abilities and so with her (Cepeda) running, she’s got speed. I wouldn’t fault Alexa at all for that. That’s what we want her to do. We want to force them to make errors. That’s what we’ve tried to do with our speed. Today, it backfired on us a little bit.”

Franklin scored two runs in the bottom of the inning on two errors by freshman shortstop Taylor Ebbs.

The Quakers then added three more runs in the second on three hits and two more errors by Ebbs.

After another error in the third, Wise switched Ebbs with center fielder Nadia Witt to start the fourth.

“Nadia’s played shortstop for us before and honestly for Taylor, you could see the wheels were going and she’s trying to rush the throws,” Wise said. “She just needed to slow it down a little bit. Instead of just letting her continue to spin in that cycle, you just try to get her out of it. She’s a great player. She’s going to come back. It doesn’t affect her in the box. She comes back out and hits. Nadia’s been Player of the Year two years in a row and honestly Taylor is a kid that could do that kind of thing in the future, too. She’s that good. She’s that kind of kid.”

Witt scored McNary’s first run in the top of the third but the Lady Celts could have scored more as freshman Abigail Covalt was picked off third after hitting a double to lead off the inning.

Franklin then went up 6-1 in the bottom of the third on a two-out error by Covalt at second base.

“When you’re coming out here and you’re a freshman and you’ve got seniors and you’re trying to play really hard for them and you’re trying to play really hard for yourself, it’s a big stage, whether they want to think that or not,” Wise said. “I get nervous and I’ve been doing this for a while so I can’t imagine freshmen being out here.”

McNary scored two runs in the top of the fifth to get within 6-3 and had two outs in the bottom of the inning. But an error by Witt at shortstop extended the inning and Franklin took advantage with two singles to stretch its lead to 8-3.

Going into the seventh trailing 9-3, Ebbs tripled with two outs to drive home Witt and Cepeda. But Kinler popped up to first base, ending the game.

Witt was 2-for-4 with a double and scored three runs in her final game with the Lady Celts.

McNary graduates three seniors—Watt, Kinler and Haley Ebner.

“They’ve been huge contributes to this team, not just on the field but off the field and the impact that they’ve had on this program, it’s been huge,” Wise said. “We’re going to miss the heck out of them.”

Wise and Ebner will continue to play softball at California Riverside and Eastern Oregon.

“They’re going on to bigger and better things and Emma’s all ready for college and she’s a super smart kid,” Wise said. “They’re just great kids and I just appreciate all they’ve done for all of us.”