Ellie Martin slides home with the lead run for McNary on Brookelynn Jackson's two-run single in the bottom of the sixth against Crater on Tuesday, May 3, at McNary. The Celtics won 6-3 with six runs in the sixth inning. (KEIZERTIMES/Joshua Manes)

With a six-run sixth, McNary softball was able to come back and secure a home win against the Crater High School Comets on Tuesday. 

The offensive explosion in the sixth fueled the 6-3 win. The Celtics batted around in the inning with eight hits, all singles.

McNary had made contact all game, but just couldn’t put together hits until the sixth. Head coach Kelly Parsell credited the early struggles to Crater’s defense and a lack of adjustment at the plate to put the ball on the ground or at a lower flight. 

But in the sixth the hits kept coming. 

“It was exactly what the girls have inside them. It had been there the whole game and it just finally broke through,” Parsell said. “It was great to see them string together hits one-by-one-by-one. Just really proved their work ethic at the plate, their adjustments and their drive.”

The Celtics took the lead on a two-out, two-run single from Brookelynn Jackson. 

Jackson said she went up to the plate looking to make adjustments from her first three at-bats. When she saw her pitch on a 1-0 count, she sent a line drive into center field that scored Karah Miller and Ellie Martin. 

“I just knew a base hit was going to work in the gap,” Jackson said. “The pitch I hit was a changeup, and I saw one before. So being able to sit back and drive that to the right side was a big thing I was working on.”

The sixth inning rally started when Heather Ebner led off with a single up the middle. With clean-up hitter Kayelee Schwab up, Parsell made a call not often seen. She called for Schwab to bunt, playing for a rally and to take away the double play. 

Schwab fouled two attempts off, and with two strikes swung away and singled.

It wasn’t the first time in the game Parsell called for Schwab to sacrifice. In the fourth she successfully moved Ebner over to second.

“We needed [Ebner] in scoring position and had to make the choice to have [Schwab] bunt,” Parsell said. “Later in the game we were in the same exact situation but needed four runs to win. We thought about having Kayelee bunt, gave her a couple opportunities and then she came through with the hit.”

While the offense woke up late, defensively the Celtics struggled, committing six errors. All three runs allowed by pitcher Lacey Vasas were unearned. 

“It's still a lot of in-game situations that are really hard to replicate in practice,” Parsell said. “We just have to use these opportunities and learn from them and grow from them.”

The win for McNary snapped an eight-game win streak for Crater in which they had outscored opponents 115-9. 

The tough non-league matchup late in the season gives a bit of a postseason preview, according to Parsell. 

“This is a good opportunity to get a fake playoff run,” Parsell said. “That is what it feels like. You don’t know the team. You don’t know much about them, they could have traveled from far. But we’re here to play a game, we’re here to win a game, and it was great practice.”

And scheduling a similar late season test in future seasons may be the plan going forward, Parsell said. 

Crater as an opponent may have made the game a little more special. Former Celtic Taylor Kenworthy was on the field for the Comets at second base. 

Vasas said Kenworthy is her best friend, which can make pitching to her difficult.

“We make eye contact and I try not to laugh,” Vasas said. “We both support each other in every single way even though we’re playing against each other and we’re supposed to be enemies.”

McNary is set to finish out the week on the road. They are at Sprague High School on Thursday (score not available at time of print) and have a doubleheader at Mountain View High School on Saturday.