Glencoe atop standings after 5-3 win over McMinnville
With first place in the Pacific Conference softball standings on the line, Glencoe turned in the same direction for leadership and results that they have for years — toward their seniors.
The Crimson Tide got four hits, two RBIs, two more runs scored and a couple stolen bases from seniors Morgan DeBord and Jensen Becker in a 5-3 win over No. 10-ranked McMinnville Wednesday, April 24, at Glencoe High School. And in the process dealt the Grizzlies a second conference defeat while maintaining an unblemished record themselves.
"Very big win," Becker said after the game.
Glencoe holds a one game lead over second place Newberg and a now two game gap between them and Mac with seven games remaining in the regular season.
The Tide trailed for the bulk of the game versus the Grizz, but managed four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 5-2 lead, thanks to Becker, a bevy of quality at-bats by a handful of Glencoe hitters including DeBord, and an uncharacteristically wild inning from standout McMinnville pitcher Payton Hudson. Much of which, at least the Tide part of the equation, was of no surprise to Glencoe head coach Jason Eastman.
"Morgan (DeBord) and Jensen (Becker) have been clutch since their Freshman year," the coach said. "Glencoe Softball has always had amazing leaders since I have been around the program, which is what makes this program so special. Morgan and Jensen are just continuing to grow and keep this program where we want it be."
Glencoe scored their initial run in the first when Becker drove in DeBord who'd singled to start the game. McMinnville answered in the second when they parlayed a leadoff walk, a sacrifice bunt, a single and a double into two runs to take a 2-1 lead. From there it became a pitcher's duel, with Hudson and the Tide's Dana Butterfield doing yeoman's work in the circle. Hudson allowed just two hits over the next four innings, while Butterfield struck out five and on more than one occasion worked her way out of jams with a noticeable level of fortitude.
"Dana's continues to get healthy and continues to work extremely hard on her spins," Eastman said. "She has a tremendous fight and grit that will make her an elite pitcher."
Trailing 2-1 entering the sixth, things looked bleak for the Tide having failed to score since the first inning. Yet while down, Glencoe definitely wasn't out, especially after Becker singled to start the inning.
"I just wanted to put the ball in play and hopefully get on base," Becker said.
After singling to center, Becker advanced to second and later third on a passed ball and wild pitch before scoring on a Butterfield ground out. Then Emma Ware walked, Ellie Ravins singled, then back-to-back hit-by-pitches to Megan Gaskin and Athena VanDyke gave Glencoe a 3-2 lead with the bases loaded. Hudson got freshman Kaitlin Abrahamson swinging for the inning's second out and appeared to get out of the inning when DeBord hit a routine groundball to shortstop. But the throw to first was wide, allowing two more runs to score and providing the Tide with enough cushion to cruise to victory in the seventh.
The size of the win was undeniable, but was also minimized a bit by Eastman who spoke to the work still yet to be done.
"In a year in the 6A classification where anyone can beat anyone on a given night, we try to play one inning at a time," the coach said. "Each League win is special and we celebrate each win together as a team. The girls have seven league games left and are working hard to get better at each practice."
Becker was a bit more impressed with her team following the win.
"At first we were struggling, but we came together as a team and I thought we had a more positive attitude towards the end," she said. "We fought and fought and fought, and the bottom of our lineup really fought for it, and I feel like that made us stronger."
And where does the senior think the team goes from here?
"We'll just keep working hard at practice," she said.
Music to her coach's ear.
The Tide went on to defeat Sherwood 8-0 Friday, April 26, behind Butterfield who allowed just one hit while striking out 14, and homering twice.
Glencoe was scheduled to host Forest Grove Tuesday, April 29, after this paper's deadline, and will travel to Liberty for a 5:00 p.m. game, May 1.