Down to their final out, with a possible three-game losing streak and their second sixth inning collapse in as many days looming, the Lady Celts weren’t ready to let the regular season end on a sour note Tuesday when Westview came to town.
In the bottom of the ninth, trailing by one, Lacey Vasas stepped to the plate with runners on first and second.
“It’s kind of funny, I was like, ‘Please, Lord, please Jesus, take the wheel. I swear, just let me have a good hit,’” Vasas said with a smile. “Yeah, that was really it. I was praying. That was just pure luck there.”
Lucky or not, Vasas’ three-run homerun gave the Lady Celts a 6-4 win, and ended the regular season with a bang.
The first two batters of the inning were retired, but a walk to Heather Ebner kept the inning and the Lady Celts’ hopes alive. Karah Miller singled to bring Vasas up, and with a 1-2 count, Vasas sent a shot to center field to end the game.
It was the second game in a row that went extra innings — maybe they were trying to make up for the games that couldn’t be rescheduled — and the second in a row where McNary lost the lead in the sixth inning.
On Monday, McNary had a two-run lead heading into the final inning on the road at Jesuit, but a two out, two-run home run tied the game, and Jesuit went on to win in the eighth.
“It goes back to the competitive drive of athletes,” McNary head coach Kelly Parsell said. “There’s people who, they’re out there in the bottom of the sixth, bottom of the seventh, and they say, ‘hit me the ball. I know I’m going to catch it. I want to get this out. I know I’m going to field it and make that out. Give me the ball.’ And there’s people who either aren’t thinking that, who don’t understand the situation, or a little bit nervous, and the ball finds people who are nervous.”
Those nerves, if there, weren’t the Lady Celts’ undoing on Tuesday.
They made the adjustments needed and were able to get to Westview starter Ana Fifita, who pitched the entire game for the Wildcats. Fifita looked strong throughout her 135 pitches, forcing six pop-ups and plenty of fly balls from the McNary offense.
“A lot of girls were trying to make that adjustment, but I think were doing the wrong thing to make that adjustment and ended up being out in front and popping up instead of just connecting with the ball and keeping it simple,” Parsell said. “They knew what to do, but we’re just not executing it mentally attacking the right pitch.”
Westview almost didn’t give Vasas and McNary the chance in the ninth inning. In the top of the McNary center fielder Aspynn Westby threw Kylie Frantz at home for the final out of the inning.
These final two games gave McNary some vital high intensity game-time moments that they can never see in a practice.
“The situation that requires girls to step up, want to be in that clutch position, and those are impossible to mimic in practice,” Parsell said. “And yesterday they got the feeling of, I had the chance and I blew it. It was right there. I could have done it and I didn’t. And we had a lot of those times today too.”
The Lady Celts have five practices before the first round of the OSAA State Championship playoffs. They are currently ranked No. 9, and will host a first round playoff game on Monday. Playoff brackets will be made official on Friday.