Celts lose to South Salem in slugfest

McNary’s Abbi Covalt slides safely into home plate (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

McNary did plenty of damage at the plate, finishing the game with eight runs on 12 hits. However, the Celtics couldn’t do anything to slow down the South Salem offense.

The Saxons struck for 11 runs on 17 hits to defeat McNary 11-8 on Tuesday night.

“South is full of good hitters,” McNary head coach Kevin Wise said. “It didn’t matter what we were throwing at them. They were just hitting really well and they took advantage of any little mistake that we made.”

“We just need to come out with a little bit more of a chip on our shoulder. I though we maybe got too relaxed.”

Alexa Cepeda and Hannah Ebner each went 3-for-4 with an RBI at the plate in the loss.

Both teams went scoreless in the first two frames. However, the Celtics were able to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third.

Shaylee Custer lead off the inning with a double to the gap in right-center field. After being moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, Custer scored on an RBI single from Cepeda.

The next batter, Abbi Covalt, reached on an infield hit. McNary shortstop Taylor Ebbs then followed with an RBI-single down the first base line. Cepeda scored moments later when Ebbs purposely got in a rundown between first and second base, putting the Celtics up 3-0.

South Salem answered back with an unearned run in the bottom half of the frame to cut the lead to 3-1. The Saxons were looking for more with runners on second and third and only one out, but McNary pitcher Faith Danner fanned the next two batters to get her team out of trouble.

Danner helped herself out at the plate in the following inning as she began the top of the fourth with a sharp single to left field and then was pinch-ran for by Hailey Heinz.

After a sacrifice bunt from Kayelee Schwab and a single from Ebner, Heinz eventually scored on an RBI-groundout from Custer, putting McNary on top 4-1.

South Salem answered back with three runs on five hits in the bottom of the fourth tie the game at 4-4. The Celtics briefly regained the lead in the top of the fifth when Cepeda scored on a wild pitch. But in the bottom of the frame, everything came unraveled for McNary.

McNary was on the verge of getting out of the inning with one on and two outs. However, after Bella Wolf was hit by a pitch, the Saxons unloaded with three straight extra-base hits, including a two-run homer by Delaney Keith to give South Salem the 9-5 lead.

Getting rid of those blowup innings is something that Wise would greatly like to get rid of moving forward.

“They have to start believing in themselves and each other,” Wise said. “I think we get a little complacent here and there.”

Despite being down by four, Ebner put a spark in the McNary dugout to begin the top of the sixth. With a 3-0 count, Wise gave Ebner the green light to swing, and the freshman launched a deep fly ball that to straight away center field that sailed over the wall for a solo home run.

“It was pretty cool to hit a home run,” Ebner said. “I was just focused of hitting for the girl behind me. The pitch was right there and I just went for it. It was awesome.”

“I feel like it boosted our momentum.”

Cluster drew a free pass in the next at-bat. Then, nine-batter Kamryn Miller drove a double to the wall in left field, scoring Cluster from first. Miller came into score two batters later on a single up the middle by Covalt, cutting the lead to one.

“That has happened to us several times this year. We’ll be down to some good teams, but these girls never give up,” Wise said.

Ebner replaced Danner in the circle in the bottom of the sixth, but the pitching change made little difference as the Saxons got two insurance runs in the frame to go up 11-8.

The Celtics could only get one runner aboard in the final frame as Saxons pitcher Alley Isaac shut the door on McNary in the top of the seventh.

“It was a tough way to lose, but we definitely got better in some ways,” Ebner said. 

McNary plays host to Mountain View at noon on Saturday.