Tualatin gets softball playoff win -- and revenge
TUALATIN — Motivation wasn't a problem.
For the Tualatin High School softball team, all it had to do to was look back a year.
That certainly had the Timberwolves fired up.
And they took it out on McMinnville.
Tualatin, which fell 4-1 to the Grizzlies last year in a Class 6A state playoff first-round game, made sure that McMinnville wasn't about to end its season for the second year in a row. With that in mind, the Wolves got off to a fast start, and never let up, on their way to posting a 7-1 win over the Grizzlies in a Class 6A state playoff second round game played Wednesday at Tualatin High School.
"We had revenge on our minds," Tualatin junior pitcher Megan Woodward said after the victory.
"We just wanted to get past the first round," said Tualatin senior second baseman Amanda Reser, who went 4 for 4 at the plate in the victory. "Last year, they stopped us from doing that. It was nice to come back and beat them, and get revenge."
"Everyone was ready for this game," Tualatin junior third baseman Taylor Alton said.
With the loss, McMinnville, the Greater Valley League co-champion, and the No. 10 team in the final OSAA power rankings, finished its season with a final overall record of 21-5.
Tualatin, the Three Rivers League champion, and the No. 7 team in the power rankings, improved to 23-3 on the season. The Wolves also advance to the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs. They'll host Grants Pass in a quarterfinal contest on Friday, starting at 5 p.m., at Tualatin High School.
"We were all ready," Reser said of Wednesday's second-round contest. "I didn't want my last game to be a loss."
Well, the hard-hitting, and motivated, Wolves made sure that wouldn't happen.
Tualatin got off to a strong start in the playoff tilt, scoring three times in the bottom of the first inning.
Reser got things rolling with a leadoff single to right field. One out later, Sammi Caron, the only other senior on the Tualatin squad, singled to left field. Sophomore Emily Johansen then drew a walk, loading the bases with one out.
Alton then drove in Reser for the game's first run with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
"That felt amazing," Alton said. "That got us energized."
Tualatin junior Zoe Olivera followed with a bloop double to shallow center field. Caron and Johansen both scored on the hit, giving the Wolves their early 3-0 lead.
Reser also had a one-out triple in the bottom of the second inning, but the Wolves weren't able to take advantage of that opportunity.
However, with the way Woodward was pitching, and behind some strong infield defense — from Alton at third base, freshman Bella Valdes at shortstop, and with Reser at second — that didn't matter.
The Wolves retired nine Grizzly batters in order, until McMinnville junior Hanna Young drew a one-out walk in the top of the fifth inning, to keep the 3-0 advantage intact.
Tualatin was then able to add on to its lead in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Valdes singled to center field to lead off the frame. Caron followed with an infield single. Johansen then roped a line-drive single to center field, loading the bases with no outs.
Alton was then hit by a pitching, bringing in Valdes to make the score 4-0. One out later, and with the bases still loaded, sophomore Andrea Gomez was also hit by a pitch, plating Caron to up the margin to 5-0.
Johansen would then score on a groundout by junior Ella Hillier, pushing the Tualatin lead to 6-0.
Tualatin would add another run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Reser singled to left field to lead off the frame. Junior pinch-hitter Kayla Laird followed with an infield single. Two outs later, McMinnville committed a fielding error on a hard-hit grounder by Alton. Reser scored on the play to push the margin to 7-0.
The Grizzlies tried to battle back in the top of the seventh inning, with freshman Madison Rapp drawing a one-out walk, and junior Ashely Rhoads following with a double to center field. Rapp then scored on a groundout by Young, but Johansen, playing at first base for the Wolves, threw out Rhoads, who was trying to advance to third base on the play, with Alton making the tag, ending the game and starting the Wolves' celebration.
"We all got our energy up, and we were all hitting," Reser said. "When somebody hits, we all do. It's contagious with us."
"Everyone brought the energy," Alton said.
Woodward, in getting the pitching win, gave up one run on two hits, while striking out six and walking two.
"I felt like I had to come in ready and focused," she said. "I had to keep up the energy."
Reser, in addition to going 4 for 4 at the plate, also tripled scored a pair of runs in the victory. Caron went 3 for 4 with a pair of runs scored. Olivera went 1 for 3, with a double and two RBIs.
Johansen went 1 for 3 with two runs scored. Alton also drove in a pair of runs. Gomez had a hit and an RBI. Valdes had a hit and scored a run. Laird had a hit and Hillier drove in a run.
"We worked all season for this," Alton said.
"This was a blast," Reser said.
"We were all cheering and laughing," Woodward said.
For McMinnville, sophomore Lexie McKinley and Rhoads each had a double.
Grants Pass, the No. 3 team out of the Southwest Conference and the No. 15 team in the power rankings, brings a 19-9 record into Friday's quarterfinal game.
The winner of Friday's quarterfinal game at Tualatin will face either Glencoe or North Medford in a state playoff semifinal game on Tuesday. The Wolves, if they win on Friday, would be playing on the road in Tuesday's semifinals.