Clackamas uses long ball to take down North Medford in semis, 8-7
The Clackamas softball team broke out the home-run sticks against North Medford on Tuesday.
Clackamas' Alyssa Daniell, Kylie Hegar, Kaelyn Lawrence, and Olivia Musso all went deep to highlight a 10-hit attack that carried the Cavaliers to an 8-7 victory over the defending state-champion Black Tornado in Tuesday's OSAA Class 6A semifinal at Clackamas High School.
North Medford had two runners in scoring position in the seventh inning when Clackamas' Nicole McBride retired Tornado leadoff batter Lauren Barry on a bouncer back to the mound for the game's final out.
With the win, the No. 2-ranked Cavaliers advanced to the state championship final for the first time and will take on top-ranked Tualatin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Oregon State University Softball Complex in Corvallis.
"That was too close for comfort," Cavaliers coach Ken Gemma said. "Our girls just keep hitting and it keeps us in games and helps us win. Our defense wasn't great today, but we'll clean it up and be playing on turf Saturday.
"We played Tualatin at the beginning of the season and they beat us 6-2, but we played absolutely horrendous, so we're looking forward to playing them again."
Clackamas took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Kylee Vanderbout drew a one-out walk from North Medford starter Rylan Austin and scored on Joey Miller's two-out single to left.
In the second, Clackamas' Madison Stateler and Shaylee Monise hit one-out singles and then Hegar sent a 0-1 pitch from Austin over the fence in left field for a three-run homer that gave the Cavs a 4-0 lead.
North Medford answered in the third when the Tornado sent nine batters to the plate against Clackamas starter Shaylee Monise and scored five runs on four hits and two Clackamas errors. Ella Ivens provided the key blow with a two-out double to the gap in left-center field that scored Chelby Smalley and Grace Johnson to give the Tornado a 5-4 lead.
At that point, the Cavaliers knew they were in a game.
"We told the girls, 'Hey, it's a 0-0 ballgame. Let's start over and earn our runs and start hitting the ball again,'" Gemma said. "All they said was, 'Yeah, let's get 'em back and get more.'
"They're pretty hungry when it comes to coming back and hitting the ball and scoring runs."
The Cavaliers got a run back in the home half of the third when Lawrence lofted a 0-1 pitch from Austin over the fence in right-center for a two-out, solo homer that tied the score at 5-5.
In the fourth, Kylie Vanderbout ignited the Clackamas offense with a double into the left-field corner, and then Daniell and Musso hit back-to-back homers -- Daniell sending a two-run dinger to left-center, Musso a solo shot to straightaway center -- to put the Cavs back on top, 8-5.
McBride, who relieved Monise to start the fourth, pitched around two walks in the fifth and an error in the sixth to maintain the Cavs' three-run cushion heading into the seventh.
North Medford made one final push, starting with Smalley's solo homer to right-center leading off the seventh and cutting the Clackamas lead to 8-6.
Grace Johnson then reached on an error and stole second, Ivens looked at a called third strike for the first out, Lily Gann reached on another error to put runners on the corners, and Kylie Baker lined out to shortstop for the second out.
Pinch-hitter Shahar Miles then beat out an infield single and Johnson scored from third to cut the lead to 8-7, but that rallied end with Barry's bouncer back to the mound.
"The kids battled," Tornado coach Chris Campbell said. "Clackamas put runs up on the board and we came back and battled every time. This team will not die. They always give you 110 percent, so there's really nothing more we can ask for."