KJ Custer slides safely into home in McNary’s 10-0 win over South Salem (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
Before their first game on their new field, McNary softball coach Kevin Wise told his team to not take this moment for granted.
It appeared that the Celtics took their coach’s advice.
Lacey Vasas threw a complete-game three-hitter, and added a pair of hits of her own, and Taylor Ebbs went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple as McNary run-ruled South Salem 10-0 in the Celtics first home contest in nearly two years.
“One of the things I told the girls is that you never know when this thing is going to end, so play every minute like it’s your last,” Wise said. “I am so proud of how they played today.”
Ebbs, a senior, echoed her coach’s sentiments and stated that she feels blessed to be able to have a senior season after missing her entire junior campaign due to COVID-19.
“It is something I don’t want to take for granted, because we could lose it in a second,” Ebbs said.
A two-out rally in the bottom of the first helped the Celtics gain the early momentum. With runners on third and first, an infield single from Kate Ronning helped push McNary’s first run across the board. Vasas and Kaylee Schwab each followed with RBI singles of their own to put the Celtics on top 3-0.
“All 15 of our girls can hit. It is such a luxury,” Wise said.
The Celtics extended their lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the second when Allie Martinez scored on a wild pitch.
Vasas proved her dominance in the circle right away with her command of the strike zone and pitching to soft contact. The sophomore right-hander credited her defense in allowing her to attack the Saxons lineup.
“A lot of people get nervous on the mound, but pitching honestly calms me down. And knowing that I can count on my defense is also really helpful,” Vasas said.
With two outs and a runner on first in the top of the third, Saxons outfielder Alivia Benavidez laced a single to center field to keep the inning alive. But when the runner on first tried getting greedy, Ebbs threw a rocket to third from center field to nail the runner at third.
“With a great defense behind her, Lacey can just go out and relax and pitch. She is moving the ball so well and hitting her spots. But it also makes a huge difference when a pitcher knows that she has a great defense,” Wise said.
After an RBI-groundout by Schwab in the bottom of the third, the Celtics had another three-run inning in the following frame.
Ebbs had flied out to left field in her first two at-bats, but with a runner on first and nobody out, the University of Kentucky signee scorched an RBI triple into the gap in right center field. Ebbs would score moments later thanks to an RBI-single from Abbi Covalt.
“My approach in the first two at-bats was to hit line drives and I kept getting under the ball. In my third at-bat, I tried hitting the ball on the ground and that’s what helped me get on top of it,” Ebbs said.
Schwab recorded her third RBI later in the frame thanks to her second hit of the game, extending the lead to 8-0.
After KJ Custer started the bottom of the fifth by reaching first on a free pass, Ebbs hit a line shot down the left field line for a ground rule double, putting two runners in scoring position. Custer got home on a groundout from Heather Ebner and Ebbs scored the game-ending run on a wild pitch.
“Our lineup is really good at being smart and doing our job,” Ebbs said.
McNary returns home on Monday, April 26 to face off against North Salem at 4 p.m.
Matt Rawlings: [email protected]