Glencoe takes it to Centennial in playoffs opening round
Survive and advance.
It wasn't pretty at times, but the Glencoe softball team did what they had to do when it mattered most, and defeated the Centennial Eagles 10-2 in the first round of the OSAA state playoffs Monday night, May 20, at Glencoe High School.
"That was a good team victory," Glencoe head coach Jason Eastman said. "We have some kids who haven't played in a playoff game before, so there were some jitters and it was close there for a while, but we know playoff softball is going to be a dogfight and we had enough fight tonight to win."
The Crimson Tide scored three runs in the first inning and appeared poised to cruise to an easy win over the No. 5-seeded team from the Mt. Hood Conference, but the Eagles scored one in the third and another in the fourth to cut the lead to one before Glencoe responded with five of their own in the fourth to blow the game open.
"There were some nerves early from some of the younger girls, but they pushed through it," Glencoe shortstop Morgan DeBord said. "We worked as a team and we've really been working on our energy level, and that was good today."
DeBord finished 3-for-3, including a two-run homer in the fifth, and tallied two RBIs and three runs scored. She wasn't the only Tide hitter with pop either, as catcher Athena VanDyke homered as well, and senior Jensen Becker finished with four RBIs. In addition, pitcher Dana Butterfield battled injury to throw seven full innings, allowing just two hits while striking out eight.
"Dana was amazing tonight," said DeBord. "She's been battling injuries but still manages to get it done."
Centennial head coach Steve Baker was pleased with his girls' effort in defeat, noting their competitive fight despite struggling for much of the second half of the year.
"I asked the girls the last week was to keep competing and trying to get better, so I was pleased with that," Baker said. "The second half of our season we haven't played particularly well, but I thought we competed really well tonight against a pitcher that's better than we're used to facing."
Glencoe got things going in the first when DeBord singled to start the game, stole second, then, after a walk, Alivia Eastman eventually put runners on first and second. DeBord scored on an Ellie Ravins bunt and an error to put the Tide ahead 1-0. They wasted little time adding to the lead, when a hitter later Becker doubled to right centerfield, driving in Eastman and Ravins to put the home team up 3-0.
The Eagles got one back in the third inning when Ashley Hawkins doubled then scored on a Mia Bratcher single to right. They got another run an inning later when a hit-by-pitch followed by a walk and a wild pitch put runners on second and third, then a passed ball scored Charlotte Marcum to make it a 3-2 game. That, coupled with a crafty pitching performance by Centennial's Marcum, made things a bit interesting heading to the bottom of the fourth inning.
"She was a very good pitcher," Eastman said. "I was impressed with her speed and her movement. But our girls made adjustments, and that's what good hitters do. It might take one or two times through, but they make the adjustments."
And they did — thanks to VanDyke.
After Megan Gaskin led-off the fourth with a single to left, VanDyke took a full-count pitch over the wall in left field to put the Tide ahead 5-2, then watched as the Eagles imploded, as Glencoe scored three more runs on three walks, an error, and a hit by Nici Eckhardt to make it 8-2 and essentially end the game.
Centennial's Baker was noticeably frustrated with the loss, but ultimately understood that overall his girls got the most from what was a relatively young and inexperienced squad.
"We've had to move a lot of girls around this year because of some youth and inconsistency, but they developed and I'm relatively happy with how things went," Baker said.
Next the Tide will face Westview, who defeated West Salem 3-1 in their opening round game Monday night. Eastman knows the game versus the Wildcats will be a battle, but took a moment to reflect on this year's journey which started with an opening game, 18 strikeout loss to Hillsboro, and culminated with a Pacific Conference championship just a week ago.
"We had to lose to Hilhi and strike out 18 times, and we had to lose to Tualatin and strike out 18 times," Eastman said. "Because we learned from those tough times and that's what helped us beat the Newberg and McMinnvilles, and that's the process part and the girls bought in to that."
DeBord was less philosophical about the past, present, and future, but boiled it down to one thing regarding their prospects going forward.
"It's all about energy with us," she said. "If our energy dies, we die."
Glencoe will host Westview this Wednesday, May 22, with the time yet to be determined prior to our print deadline.