Lava Bears sweep Cowgirls


Playoff hopes suffer as Crook County manages just two hits in loss to Bend

The Crook County Cowgirl softball team can’t seem to buy a break.

After starting the season with a 13-2 record, the Cowgirls have lost six games in a row, most by narrow margins.

Friday afternoon was more of the same as the Cowgirls could muster just two hits in a 4-2 loss to the Bend Lava Bears.

“Once again we struggled to get our bats going and we left runners on base,”?said Crook County Head Coach Jessica Cross.

Pitcher Emily Benton had one of her strongest outings of the year for the Cowgirls, limiting the Lava Bears to just five hits while striking out four and walking just one. However, Bend pitcher Megan Berrigan was even stronger, limiting Crook County to just two hits while striking out seven Cowgirl batters.

“Em threw a great game,”?Cross said. “We just had some errors that allowed runners and they had some crucial base hits that scored those runners.”

An Aspen Christiansen sacrifice fly scored Jena Ovens in the top of the first inning to give the Cowgirls a 1-0 lead.

The Lava Bears answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second to take a 2-1 lead.

Neither team was able to score again until the fifth inning when Bend’s Alexis Hill-Gruenberg blasted a two-run double, giving the Lava Bears a 4-1 lead.

The Cowgirls rallied in the seventh inning, as Regan Chavez scored from third on a passed ball. However, the rally ended with runners on second and third as the Lava Bears held on for the win.

The victory gave the Lava Bears (9-3, 15-6) a three-game sweep of the Cowgirls (6-6, 13-8).

Bailee Wood and Karlee Hollis had the Cowgirls' only hits in the contest.

Prior to the current losing streak the Cowgirls were averaging just over 11 runs a game. However, the Cowgirls have only managed just 15 runs in the last six contests, or 2.5 runs per game.

The slump couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Cowgirls, who are battling for an at large state playoffs play-in berth. The team is ranked 17th in the latest Class 4A?power rankings. With 24 teams qualifying for post season play, most years that ranking would be high enough to ensure a play-in contest. Unfortunately, the Cowgirls still have three games remaining with the struggling Summit Storm. The Storm are just 2-18 on the year, and 0-12 in the Intermountain Hybrid League. With such a poor record the Cowgirls are likely to drop in the power rankings even with a series sweep of the Storm.

Further complicating things for the Cowgirls, the third place teams from the Cowapa, Tri-Valley, Far West, Oregon West, Sky-Em, and Skyline Conferences all earn automatic play-in spots. With several of those teams ranked below the Cowgirls and just two at-large berths available, Crook County has no margin for error.

If post season play started today, the Cowgirls would have a play-in game. However, with Central and Cascade, who are currently fourth and fifth in the Oregon West League, lurking close behind, the Cowgirls have no margin for error. Not only do they need to sweep the series with the Storm, they could still be eliminated from post season play if either Central or Cascade were to suddenly get hot and go on a winning streak.

The series with the Storm starts at 3 p.m. on Wednesday with the Cowgirls hosting a doubleheader. The team travels to Summit on Friday for a 4:30 p.m. contest, which ends the regular season.

The power rankings are finalized on Sunday, May 18, so following Friday’s contest the team will have to hold their breath until sometime late Sunday or early Monday before they find out for sure if they have earned a play-in game.

Should the team qualify for post-season play, the Cowgirls would travel for a play-in contest, which could be held Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, May 22-24.

Bend 4, Crook County 2

At Bend

Crook County 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 — 2 2 4

Bend 0 2 0 0 2 0 x — 4 5 3