McNary’s bats come alive in victory

McNary third baseman Kate Ronning doubles to center field in the second inning. Ronning was 4-for-5 on the night with a pair of doubles in the Celics 12-5 victory over West Salem on Monday (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Coming into their contest with West Salem, the McNary softball team had scored 60 runs in their last four games.

And the offensive production didn’t slow down in this one.

The Celtics pushed across 12 runs on 19 hits as they cruised to the 12-5 victory over West Salem on Monday night. 

“We have been working on hitting a lot. That has been our main focus lately,” McNary head coach Kevin Wise said. “Every inning, we kept the pedal to the metal and didn’t let up.”

“Once they got hot, the girls just fed off each other. It was really fun to watch.”

Faith Danner, Kamryn Miller and Abbi Covalt had three hits apiece for McNary. Kate Ronning went 4-for-5 at the dish with two RBIs and a run scored. 

While she only went 1-for-2 at the plate, it was clear that McNary shortstop Taylor Ebbs is making a name for herself among Mountain Valley Conference coaches. 

After she scalded a line-drive double off the wall in the top of the second inning, West Salem head coach Ty Nicholson elected to intentionally walk Ebbs in her final three plate appearances.

But the strategy wound up backfiring on the Titans as Ebbs scored each time she was dealt an intentional pass.

“What I really liked was, after they walked (Ebbs), the girls behind her picked her up by hitting singles and doubles,” Wise said. “Everyone is chipping in right now and it makes life a lot easier as a coach.” 

The McNary offense exploded out the gate with five runs in the top of the first to take a comfortable lead. 

Alexa Cepeda and Covalt started the contest with back-to-back singles and gave the Celtics runners on second and third with nobody out after a stolen base by Covalt.

Cepeda and Covalt both scored on RBI-groundouts to put McNary on top 2-0. 

Ronning and Shaylee Cluster kept the inning going with back-to-back doubles to give the Celtics the 3-0 advantage. Hannah Ebner and Miller followed with consecutive RBI-singles to make the score 5-0. 

“I feel like I’m seeing the ball pretty well right now and I’m doing a better job of making contact instead of trying to hit home runs,” Ronning said. 

Coming to the circle with a five-run cushion, Danner, who was the starting pitcher, was able to challenge the West Salem hitters with her best stuff.

“It’s really nice to pitch with a lead because it means I can work on stuff that I need to work and throw what I want to throw,” Danner said. 

After giving up an unearned run in the bottom of the first, Danner retired the side in order the following frame. Danner ended up going the distance in the circle and gave up three earned runs and only walked two.

The senior pitcher also helped herself out when she came to the plate in the top of the second. With two runners in scoring position, Danner poked a hard ground ball that just got between the first and second baseman for a two-run single, giving McNary the commanding 7-1 lead.

Danner reached base four times in the game and also drove in three runs.

“I love hitting. Getting a hit gives me a lot of energy when I go back out to the mound to pitch,” Danner said. 

The Celtics would score once again later in the inning thanks to an RBI-groundout from Cluster. 

The lead grew to 11-1 in the top of the third on RBI-hits by Covalt and Ronning and a sacrifice fly by Cluster. 

West Salem gave themselves some life in the bottom of third on a solo homer by Reagan Davis. But Danner got out of the inning with no further damage. 

McNary put themselves in position to win via 10-run rule in the top of the fifth after another RBI-single from Ronning gave McNary the 12-2 lead. But West Salem was able to extend the game after a two-out rally in the bottom half of the frame.

The Titans pushed one more across in the bottom of the sixth, but Danner shut the door in the seventh with a 1-2-3 inning. 

These two teams will face off again on Friday at McNary. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.