Ali Martinez finishes her swing and watches her first inning grand slam sail out to centerfield in the first round of the 6A softball playoffs on Monday, May 23, against Grants Pass. (JOSHUA MANES/Keizertimes)

Seven first inning runs were more than enough for the No. 4 McNary Celtics to bury the No. 29 Grants Pass Cavers in the first round of the 6A softball playoffs Monday. 

The opening frame scoring onslaught was highlighted by Ali Martinez’s two-out grand slam that supplied enough offense on its own in the eventual 13-3 five-inning victory.

Martinez homered last week against West Salem, but this was her first career grand slam at any level.

“Having two outs, bases loaded, playoff game, that was just the perfect setting to have that happen,” Martinez said. “I was glad I was able to pull through with the team though and do that.”

Six Celtic batters had RBIs on the day and eight scored runs. Aspynn Westby scored three times in the game for McNary. 

Starting pitcher Lacey Vasas’ numbers might not look as dominant as other games this season, but she seemed to get a special birthday present from her changeup. Vasas was visibly shocked at times at how effective her off-speed pitch was in the game, but couldn’t explain why it was working.

“All my pitches are bipolar,” Vasas said.

The no-doubt win could be seen as payback for an early season loss the Celtics had against the Cavers on the road back on March 15. In only the second game of the season, and the second of that day, the Celtics lost 4-3 after a three-run sixth from the Cavers.

“That game was just so bad,” Vasas said. “We had a three hour bus ride, twenty minutes to warm up and that was our second game. Going into that one we knew it was going to be hard.”

But that was more than two months ago, and this Celtics team has grown together over the course of the 25 games that followed. 

“We’re a way different team than we were at the beginning of the year, in the best ways,” head coach Kelly Parsell said. “Beginning of the season, end of the season, big differences.”

Next up, McNary hosts No. 20 North Medford on Wednesday, May 25, at 4 p.m. North Medford upset No. 13 Canby 7-4 on Monday. 

Lacey Vasas delivers a pitch for McNary in the first round of the 6A playoffs against Grants Pass on Monday, May 23, at McNary. (JOSHUA MANES/Keizertimes)