6A softball: Tualatin caps perfect season with 4-3 win over Clackamas
CORVALLIS -- Clackamas pitcher Nicole McBride put the pitch right where she wanted it -- out of the strike zone and a little bit off the outside corner of the plate.
Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, that also happens to be the spot where Tualatin's Taylor Corcoran thrives as a hitter.
Corcoran lined McBride's 1-2 pitch to right field for a single with one out in the seventh inning, scoring Ella Hiller from second base with the game-winning run as the Timberwolves edged the Cavaliers 4-3 in Saturday's OSAA Class 6A softball championship final at the Oregon State University Softball Complex.
Trailing 3-1, the top-ranked Timberwolves got a two-run homer from Emily Johansen in the fifth inning to tie the game, and then put it away with three hits in the seventh, capping a perfect 30-0 season while clinching their second state title in four years.
"We had our backs to the wall, but the girls definitely worked together and came through in the end," Tualatin coach Jenna Wilson said. "It's pretty awesome. It took a lot of work and it was a long road, but we're here."
The No. 2-ranked Cavaliers got an RBI-triple from Alyssa Daniell in the first inning, a solo homer from Trinity Loeb in the second, and an RBI-single from Madison Stateler in the fourth, but didn't have any big hits late.
"I thought we played really well, but there were a few things that we really couldn't control that got us," said Loeb, who went 3 for 3 with a homer, a double to highlight the Cavs' nine-hit attack. "I wish this would have turned out differently, but I wouldn't take anything back.
"This season was really run. It's a disappointment that it ended like this, but it's also a big accomplishment. There's not a group of girls I would have rather done it with."
One of the turning points came in the fifth inning when Tualatin's Hillier led off with a single and then Johansen drove the first pitch she saw from Clackamas starter Shaylee Monise over the fence in straightaway center field for the home run that tied the game 3-3.
After Tualatin starter Megan Woodward retired the Cavaliers in order in the seventh, the Timberwolves' offense went to work against McBride, the senior right-hander who was in her second inning of relief.
Hillier led off with a single up the middle, Johansen flew out to left, and Taylor Alton singled to left, putting runners at first and second with one out for Corcoran, the freshman designated player.
McBride got ahead in the count 0-2 and then threw a change-up that went over the heart of the plate, but was too low to get a strike call.
"It was a little low, I've got to say," McBride said. "It wasn't a strike. It was more of a swing pitch that I was trying to throw and she laid off of it."
McBride threw the next pitch away and Corcoran was all over that one, driving it into right field to decide the game.
"That was absolutely incredible," Corcoran said. "The pitch was outside -- one of my favorite pitches to hit -- and I hit it like I knew I could."
Said McBride: "The pitch was about a ball off the plate, so it wasn't necessarily a strike, but she got ahold of it. I should have had it farther off the plate.
"It's disappointing, but we've got to look back and realize how successful this season was. We put in a lot of work and had a lot of talent on this team that got us to this point, so we've got to be proud of that."
Clackamas finished as co-champions of the Mt. Hood Conference and then rode home-field advantage to consecutive playoff wins over Lakeridge, Roseburg, Grants Pass and North Medford, advancing to the championship final for the first time in program history.
In the final, the Cavaliers opened the scoring in the first inning when Kylee Vanderbout reached on a one-out single and came around to score on Daniell's triple to gap in right-center field.
Loeb then gave Clackamas a 2-0 lead in the second inning when she drove the first pitch from Woodward over the fence in left field for a home run.
Tualatin got a run back in the third when Tia Ridings, the No. 9 hitter, beat out a bunt single, went to second on a sacrifice, and scored on Hillier's one-out single to center.
In the fourth, Loeb doubled to left with one out and scored on Stateler's two-out single up the middle, extending the Cavaliers' lead to 3-1.
Woodward went the distance for the Timberwolves, scattering nine hits with no walks and five strikeouts. The senior right-hander threw a total of 94 pitches -- 74 for strikes -- and also threw first-pitch strikes to 23 of the 29 batters she faced.
"I think we had her figured out a little bit, but it was tough when she'd get ahead because she had some pitches that would mess with you a little bit," Loeb said. "You really had to jump on her early."
The Cavaliers had only three hits after the fourth inning, and the only runner to get into scoring position was Vanderbout, who had a two-out double in the fifth inning and got stranded at third base.
"That was a tough one," Clackamas coach Ken Gemma said. "It was a battle all the way to the end, so I can't complain. Our girls played great and I'm super-proud of them.
"We hit the ball all over the yard today, but Tualatin is a great defensive team and they robbed us of a couple plays that probably would have made the game go a little bit differently."
Said McBride: I think we gave it our best shot. We tried to rally back after Tualatin tied it, but just didn't get the hits when we needed them."