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The Vikings take an early lead on the Crusaders, but ultimately fall 6-2 in the first round of the state playoffs.

COURTESY PHOTO: JON OLSON - Forest Grove's Hailey Yon takes a cut during the Vikings' state playoff game with Jesuit Monday evening, May 23, at Jesuit High School.It's not always about the number of hits when it comes to softball, it's also about the timing of them.

Forest Grove fought admirably in their first-round state playoff game with Jesuit, but in the end it was the Crusaders that got the hits when they mattered most in defeating the underdog Vikings 6-2 Tuesday night, May 24, at Jesuit High School.

"We had a lot of baserunners all game, we just couldn't find a timely hit when we needed it," Vikings head coach Jeremy Ingram said. "I'm proud of the effort we put in. They found a couple timely hits, and we didn't. I think that was the difference."

Jesuit head coach Jim Speciale knew Forest Grove would come to play and told his team as much prior to the game.

"I told the girls, 'The toughest thing is to get out of the first round,'" Speciale said. "I've said this all along, there's going to be a lot of upsets. And I just told my girls, 'I want to make sure it's not us."

The Vikes led early in the game, getting a run in the top of the first inning on a Hailey Yon RBI double to take a 1-0 lead, then adding to that lead in the top of the second on a run-scoring single by sophomore Jacquelin Lang. But Jesuit chipped away at the Forest Grove lead, getting one run on an RBI single in the second, and three runs in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead before capping the scoring with two runs in the fifth.

Forest Grove had their opportunities. They had runners on second and third with one out after pushing their first run across in the game's opening inning but were held to just a single run when Katelyn Peterson was thrown out at the plate. And in the sixth, the Vikings put runners on second and third with one out but failed to plate a runner on a ground out and subsequent strike out. Chances you need to convert, especially against a quality team like Jesuit.

"We had a few chances early on to score more runs, that would have been huge for us to pad the lead some as with a good team like Jesuit you know they are going to make a run," Ingram said. "A few more runs for us early could have changed the outcome of the game in our favor."

Despite the loss, Ingram said he was impressed with his team's approach despite their lack of postseason experience and going up against a Jesuit team that can often be intimidating.

"I think we showed up ready to play which can be difficult not only playing at Jesuit but also our first playoff experience for this group," he said. "After the game I told them all how proud of them I was for fighting until the end."

Overall, the coach said he was pleased with the season and what they were able to accomplish. They won 14 games, made the playoffs and were able to gain the experience necessary to achieve greater things going forward.

Ingram applauded the work of his captains—Hailey Yon and Kaimalino Ingram—in leading the team both on and off the field, and said senor Violet Royalty, junior Jordan Ingram, and sophomore Katelyn Peterson were instrumental in their success.

The Vikes will return seven starters from this year's team and Ingram said they have a "great group of kids" coming into the program next season. He believes they laid the groundwork for success over the past three months, and that investment from both he, his staff and most importantly the girls on the team, coupled with their experience gained, will show on the field next year.

"There is a different kind of pressure in the playoffs and now we know what that feels like," Ingram said. "We talk all the time as a group that making the playoffs was great but we are not satisfied with just getting in. I am excited for next season to see where this program can go."

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