McNary Softball

Jackson walks Lady Celts off in home opener

With two down in the bottom of the seventh, senior Brookelynn Jackson stepped to the plate for the Lady Celts.

The score knotted at two and the winning run just 60 feet away, Jackson waited on the 2-1 pitch from Dallas starter Kadence Morrison.

“I just knew I needed to put the ball in play in a gap,” Jackson said. “I knew she had been throwing out and up, and just tried to make the adjustment.” 

Jackson’s adjustments were enough. It wasn’t the hardest hit ball of the afternoon, but the bloop single out over the shortstop’s head and onto the fringe of the outfield grass was enough to bring Lacey Vasas around from third for the 3-2 McNary win.

At times the right-handed dominant lineup of the Lady Celts struggled against Morrison. The lefty struck out five while walking two and allowing seven hits, and worked herself out of trouble multiple times.

She ended the first inning with a bases-loaded strikeout, and did the same in the third with two runners on. 

“She threw a great game, hit her spots really well,” McNary manager Kelly Parsell said. “It was a pretty tight zone but she worked it and worked us. We didn’t adjust until the last two outs.”

Better late than never on those adjustments.

Jackson shortened up her approach at the plate, going for more of a slap-type hit, something that Parsell says helps her see the ball and stay out over the plate. 

It was Jackson’s second hit of the game — only her and Vasas had multiple hits from either side. 

Vasas singled in the tying run earlier in the seventh inning on a bunt after an error from Dallas second baseman Kaelynn Golden brought Aspynn Westby around from first. 

This brought up Ali Martinez with one out and Vasas on second. Martinez had already gone deep once, a solo shot in the third inning that put McNary up 1-0, and the Dragons weren’t going to let her end the game, intentionally walking the Lady Celtics slugger.

“It’s an honor for Ali to be walked, she’s got to hate it though, she wants to hit,” Parsell said. “But the plan is to make it tough on the coaches to walk her because we’ve got Heather {Ebner} and we’ve got Brookelynn {Jackson}, two people who are going to put the ball in play.”

Ebner advanced Vasas and Martinez with a groundout, which brought Jackson up with the chance to play hero.

It’s a big win early in the season for the Lady Celts, who were one win away from a trip to the 6A state championship last season. And Dallas, a top-5 5A program, gave McNary a good lesson early in this season.

“It’s hard to get this kind of game against a team you can score 10 runs off,” Parsell said. “Learning how to string together hits when things aren’t working, iIn that last inning we didn’t get good hits but we worked some things out and put the ball in play and made them work. That’s what you learn from these tough games, how to be tough and how to figure it out when things aren’t working.”

In the circle for the Lady Celts Vasas matched, even exceeded Morrisson. Vasas struck out six, walking two and allowing three hits.

It was really just two pitches that Vasas probably wanted back. A two-out triple from Brook Dunkin in the fourth inning that tied the game, and a wild pitch two pitches later that brought Dunkin home for a 2-1 Dallas lead.

“Lacey’s a tough kid, she’s always going to throw well and bring it back together. She does her thing and isn’t too wavering based on other people. She knows she has a really good defense behind her. Balls are going to fall, runs are going to score. I wish we could have given her some more positives offensively, but she pushed through and stayed tough and let our defense work behind her.”

The win moves the Lady Celts to 2-1 early in the season. And they prepare to head to Gresham on Thursday before a four-game tournament trip next week.

“We’re hitting tomorrow, first off figuring out how to hit an outside pitch, didn’t know that was going to be a problem,” Parsell said. “Just understanding that we can’t go into a game with the approach to just going to swing and hope the ball hits our bat. Understanding what we’re attacking and knowing how to manipulate ourselves to hit that pitch well.”