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Morgan Calcagno, Leah Emmarson smash home runs; stout defense secures playoffs victory for young Bruins

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Barlow upset No. 10 Westview 9-6 in the first round of the 6A OSAA Softball State Championships.  It was a battle in the final inning of the opening round of the softball state tournament, as a young, underdog Bruins looked to close out an upset bid.

In the circle was sophomore pitcher Britney Henderson, facing a squadron of Westview batters who were swinging at everything in a last-second attempt at a comeback. And for a moment it looked like the Bruins might break.

Wildcat senior Zoe Zimmer smashed a home run into deep left field to cut the lead 9-6.

But Barlow Coach Rob Gehrke took a moment to walk out and chat with his young pitcher. He didn't have to say much. Despite youth across the roster — there are no seniors on this year's squad — the Bruins have been finding ways to win. And a lot of that begins with Henderson.

"These girls have battled hard all year," Gehrke said. "Britney kept hitting her spots, and we found a way to win."

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Barlow sophomore pitcher Britney Henderson tossed six strikes and secured the victory leading a staunch defense.  First she caught Westview sophomore Bridgette Boling swinging for a strike and the second out in the bottom of the seventh. Then junior Jasmine Barela was caught out by the talented Barlow outfield, leading to a roaring celebration for the road team.

"I was a little nervous at first, but once we started hitting runs, the game slowed down for me," Henderson said. "I'm really happy we won."

No. 23 Barlow (13-12) completed the 9-6 major upset over No. 10 Westview (19-9) Monday evening, May 23, during the first round of the 6A OSAA Softball State Championships.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Sophomore Leah Emmarson hit her first high school home run in the win over Westview.  For the Bruins, sophomore Morgan Calcagno went 3-3 with a HR, RBI and three runs; freshman Peyton Trickel hit 3-3 with two doubles and two RBIs; and sophomore Leah Emmarson went 2-4 with a HR and two runs. Junior Natalie Massie also had a pair of steals and runs as a courtesy runner, including stealing home for the Bruins ninth and final score.

In the circle, Henderson tossed six strikes.

"We want to take this as far as we can," Henderson said. "We have been building throughout the season, and, hopefully, the results will continue to follow."

Westview struck first, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. And though it would take a little while longer for the bats to start singing, the Bruins defense was impressive. Henderson pitched well from the plate, and the outfield was able to secure catch after catch, denying a productive Wildcats offense from snowballing a lead.

Emmarson secured multiple outs in the outfield, and in the bottom of the second, Bruins catcher Trickel made an athletic sliding catch on her knees to secure a pop-up out that had the Barlow faithful roar in approval.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Bruins sophomore Morgan Calcagno was an offensive force in the first-round victory.  "That is how these games go sometimes," Gehrke said. "Westview was hitting it, but we were able to get underneath a lot of them."

It was in the fourth inning that the Barlow offense made its move with a pair of scoring doubles. First Trickel doubled to bat home Calcagno; then junior Taylor Groza did the same to knock home a pair of teammates and have Barlow take its first lead of the contest.

Then a pair of home runs late in the game secured the victory. In the top of the fifth, Calcagno smashed a home run deep down the middle of the field to make it 5-2.

"I knew as soon as she hit it — sheesh," Gehrke said.

Then Emmarson slammed one deep right in the top of the seventh — her first high school home run.

Late in the game, Henderson gathered the Bruins during one of Westview's threatening series of runs. Though the gap was closing, Barlow never lost its confidence that belays a lack of experience and veteran leadership. The star pitcher had a simple message, "All or nothing."

The Bruins will next play No. 7 McMinnville (23-4) Wednesday, May 25.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Barlow celebrated Leah Emmarsons homerun, which helped secure the upset victory over Westview.

Gresham, Reynolds bow out

A few miles down Interstate 5, another young, talented Mt. Hood Conference team couldn't quite put together their own upset.

No. 17 Gresham lost 7-0 to No. 16 South Salem on the road Monday evening.

"Being as young as we are, we didn't stop fighting or give up," said Gresham Coach Jim Gardenhire. "We gave it our best shot up to the last out."

"The girls did a great job, I am proud of them," he added.

The young Gophers were shell-shocked early by the speed of South Salem, and after falling into an early 4-0 hole, they could never quite find their footing. That isn't to say it was a rout, as a couple bad breaks kept Gresham scoreless.

In several innings they had runners on base, but some unlucky line drives were hauled in by the Saxons defense. Another deep hit was nearly a home run, but was caught at the fence.

"We were a little tight, but we had decent hits, opportunities," Gardenhire said. "If that one was just another 4 feet it would have been a homerun."

"I am excited to see what next year will bring," he added.

Elsewhere No. 30 Reynolds lost 10-0 to softball powerhouse No. 3 Oregon City.

For an updated softball playoffs bracket, visit bit.ly/3MMiLmL


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