Ali Martinez crosses home with her teammates waiting after her sixth inning home run against North Medford in the second round of the 6A softball playoffs on Wednesday, May 25, at McNary. (JOSHUA MANES/Keizertimes)
Ali Martinez’s hot streak through the end of the season and postseason continued for the No. 4 McNary Celtics on Wednesday in the second round of the 6A softball playoffs against No. 20 North Medford.
Martinez went deep twice in the 9-2 victory. First, a two-run homer in the fourth followed by a solo shot in the sixth.
It was the continuation of the impressive postseason debut for the sophomore. She now has three postseason home runs, four in the last eight days, and a heightened level of confidence late in the sason.
“I still get nervous, but I know I’m a good hitter,” Martinez said. “I’ve always been like ‘Oh, it’s a strike, swing.’ But now I’m more having fun out there than overthinking.”
And she credits Wednesday’s showing to the adjustments she made following Monday’s win against Grants Pass. Martinez said she was popping up on inside pitches Monday, so she focused on that Tuesday at practice.
Both of her home runs Wednesday came on inside pitches.
Martinez finished the day 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored.
Despite the hot bat, head coach Kelly Parsell said there are no plans in moving her nine hitter up in the order to get Martinez a possible extra at-bat — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“I’m a big fan of having a strong bottom to bring it back to the top,” Parsell said.
The Celtics’ bats started out slow, an issue that head coach Kelly Parsell pointed out they’ve had through the middle part of the season. On Wednesday, North Medford starting pitcher Alyssa Hartheim opened the game with six straight ground ball outs.
But, the Celtics made the adjustments needed, Parsell said.
“Our bottom of the order did exactly what they needed to do and they learned from the top of the order,” Parsell said.
Ellie Martin got on with a hard hit ground ball through the left side of the infield. Martinez followed with a line drive single, and then Celtics’ starting pitcher Lacey Vasas got them on the board with a ground ball up the middle that brought home Martin.
They plated three runs in the inning and didn’t look back.
After a rocky first inning, Vasas delivered six hitless innings from the rubber for McNary. The only hit she allowed in the game was a first inning double that was misread by right fielder Madison Morse.
North Medford only managed two baserunners after the first inning, one on a second inning error and the other when Vasas hit Hartheim with a pitch in the sixth.
The balanced lineup of the Celtics was on display. Eight of the nine batters had a hit. The only batter without a hit, Brookelynn Jackson still had a sacrifice bunt, a walk and a run scored.
“As a coach, facing and pitching against a team that can hit one through nine is scary,” Parsell said. “Even if they’re not hitting but you know that they can, it makes you play with a lot of pressure.”
McNary now looks towards a Friday matchup with the highest scoring team through the first two rounds of the playoffs, No. 5 Sheldon. Sheldon has scored 16 runs in each of its games, a 16-0 four-inning win against Roosevelt, and a three-inning 16-1 win against Lake Oswego.
The Celtics are two wins away from a trip to Eugene and the 6A softball championships, but they aren’t looking too far ahead.
“One game at a time, one win at a time,” Martinez said.
Lacey Vasas delivers a pitch in the second round of the 6A softball playoffs against North Medford on Wedneday, May 25. (JOSHUA MANES/Keizertimes)
Hannah Ebner swings against North Medford on Wednesday, May 25, in the second round of the 6A softball playoffs.Heather Ebner swings at a pitch in the second round of the 6A softball playoffs against North Medford on Wednesday, May 25, at McNary. (JOSHUA MANES/Keizertimes)Brookelynn Jackson lays down a sacrifice bunt for McNary against North Medford on Wednesday, May 25, in the second round of the 6A softball playoffs. (JOSHUA MANES/Keizertimes)