Junior softball advances to final
UPDATE: The print deadline of Wednesday's Madras Pioneer came before the Jefferson County intermediate team won the District 5 championship Tuesday morning. They beat South Central, 11-1. A full recap of the game will appear in the July 10 issue.
The team will move on to the state tournament, hosted by Gold Valley Little League in Gold Hill, July 6-10.
The Jefferson County junior softball team will take on Columbia in the district finals at 11 a.m., July 4. They beat Hermiston, 11-2, in the semifinals. JC will have to beat Columbia twice in order to claim the district title.
When the Jefferson County all-stars needed runs Sunday against South Central, they came from the most surprising place – the bottom of the lineup.
Kyle Brooks, the team's No. 8 hitter, drove home the winning run with a triple – in walk-off fashion – to beat the La Pine-based team 8-7, in the Oregon District 5 intermediate baseball division tournament in Bend.
Ryan Leriche, the No. 7 hitter, reached base to set up Brooks' game-winning three-bagger.
Jefferson County manager Phil Fine said neither player had much success against South Central in previous games.
"Kyle and Ryan hardly got on base against (South Central) earlier in the year, but they did what had to be done, and I'm proud of them," Fine said. "I'm proud of the entire team. We battled hard and came back to win. It was definitely one to remember."
Jefferson County trailed South Central for most of the game, but scored runs in the sixth to tie the game, then used Brooks' clutch hit to take the win.
With the win, Jefferson County advanced to the championship, which was Tuesday morning after the Pioneer's press deadline. With a win there, the team would move on to the state tournament, hosted by District 8 and Gold Valley Little League in Gold Hill, outside Medford.
The intermediate division uses a field that's essentially a halfway point between the Little League and regulation baseball diamond, for players ages 11-13. The distance from the pitcher's mound to home plate is 50 feet, as opposed to 46 feet in Little League and 60 feet, 6 inches on a regulation field. The baselines are also in the middle of the two fields at 70 feet. In Little League, baselines are 60 feet and the regulation diamond has 90-foot baselines.
Jefferson County beat Sisters in their first game on Saturday, 18-17, after coming back from a 7-1 deficit.
Kanim Smith belted a two-run home run for Jefferson County, and Louis Fine picked up the pitching win in relief.
Smith started the game on the hill, and cruised through the first inning. In order to save pitchers for the next day, under the Little League pitch count rules, Coach Fine went to the bullpen, but the relievers had troubles throwing strikes.
Smiths home run came at a crucial time; it gave the club a 13-11 lead in the bottom of the third.
Fine rapped an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to retake the lead, 17-16, for Jefferson County. Fine later scored on a wild pitch.
In other baseball tournament games involving Jefferson County Little League:
In the 10- to 11-year-old baseball division, Jefferson County picked up a 10-8 win against Hermiston in their first game Sunday. Riley Forman hit a two-run home run to help the team to victory.
On Monday, the team faced off with The Dalles, and lost 3-1. Manager Ervey Dominguez said his team played the best he has seen them play on defense, and Gabe Elliott pitched a complete game for Jefferson County.
In the juniors division, for players ages 13-14, Jefferson County fell to Bend North twice to end their tournament run. They beat Warm Springs Nation in the first loser-out contest via forfeit.
In the minors division, for players ages 9-10, Jefferson County lost to Redmond in the first game of tournament action Saturday, 22-0.
The Jefferson County junior softball team shook off an opening 16-13 loss to Hermiston on Saturday, and has worked its way back to the semifinals.
Monday, Jefferson County pummeled Crook County 34-6 to advance. They played Tuesday at 11 a.m. against either Hermiston or Columbia, which faced off at 8 a.m. Tuesday to see who advanced to the championship, scheduled for 11 a.m. July 4.
In the 10- to 11-year-old division, Jefferson County lost both its games, and is out of the tournament. They lost to Columbia on Saturday, and then to Warm Springs Nation on Sunday.