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No. 15 Newberg will face No. 2 Sunset on the road Wednesday after making quick work of Wilson

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The Newberg bats picked up speed in the fifth inning of Monday's contest, rattling off three runs.

Playing its first home playoff game in a long time Monday evening, Newberg softball was happy to be there.

A young team with tempered expectations coming into the season, hosting a Class 6A playoff game was a treat in itself.

But the Tigers aren't satisfied, it seems, with just being a nice surprise. They're in it to advance as far as they can and that started with a 4-3 win over Wilson on Monday in the first round.

Co-interim coach Rick Church said the team thought it could've been better against the Trojans, but a win is a win in the end.

"It was a good win for us, but it didn't go as well as we'd hoped offensively," Church said. "Defensively, we were on our game with the exception of a couple errors near the end. Otherwise, we were in total control of the game from the first inning on."GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Freshman shortstop Brooke Poff is among the young contributors on a resilient Newberg softball squad.

The game remained knotted at one run apiece before a fifth inning in which Newberg rattled off three runs to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Despite some late errors, the Tigers kept Wilson at bay and advance to face No. 2 Sunset on Wednesday (May 22). Newberg utilized both of its top pitchers – freshman left-hander Serayah Neiss and sophomore right-hander Breanna Hilton – in the grind-it-out affair.

Wilson's starting pitcher posed a unique challenge for the Tiger batters.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - With the support of Coach Angela Stutzman, who's been away from the team due to health issues, Newberg softball won its opening round playoff game.

"She was a slower pitcher, which can sometimes give us problems," Church said. "Offensively, we did have some timely hitting to where we did score. It was 1-1 for most of the game, and we scored three runs in the fifth to gain control. Thankfully, we were able to hold them off."

Sunset, Newberg's next test, is the No. 2 team in state for a reason. The Apollos were 22-5 this season, 9-1 in the Metro League, and have won 14 of their past 15 games – the lone loss a 2-1 stunner at Aloha on April 26.

Sunset has won games in a variety of ways, whether it scored a boatload of runs or eked out a one-run victory. Newberg believes it can pull out the upset based on its competitive bouts with some of the state's top teams, including a competitive 5-3 loss to Pacific Conference champion and No. 6 Glencoe.

"Our outlook is that we've been able to compete with and beat some of those upper level teams," Church said. "We are fully confident and prepared to be able to battle and compete with (Sunset). If things go our way, we think we can come out of there with a win."

It won't take a perfect game to beat the likes of Sunset, Church said, but it will need to be pretty darn close.

"We're going to have to play on our toes," Church said. "Our defense and pitching has to be on. We've got to keep their run output down and if one pitcher fails the other will win. It will be more even-matched than a lot of people expect."

Newberg vs. Sunset starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Sunset High School in Beaverton.

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