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The Pioneers break through late, get a stellar pitching performance from Lily Riley.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Oregon City sophomore Lily Riley (shown earlier this spring) pitched her team past Bend 4-0 in the Class 6A state semifinals at Bend High School on Tuesday, May 31.The dream is alive.

The Oregon City softball team made sure of that.

The third-seeded Pioneers earned the first state championship game berth in their school's long history on Tuesday, May 3, when they knocked off No. 2 Bend 4-0 in nine innings in the Class 6A state semifinals at Bend High School.

"I'm so proud of my team today," said Oregon City sophomore pitcher Lily Riley, who threw all nine innings, allowing no runs on one hit and two walks while striking out 15. "We never give up and seem to find a way to win when we fight hard enough."

"I am stoked for the championship game. I cannot wait," added OC sophomore centerfielder Chloe Grimmer, who hit a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth. "We are all going to need to work as a team to string hits together and have solid defense."

With the win, the team's sixth straight, Oregon City improved to 22-7 overall after finishing second in the Three Rivers League. Next up, the Pioneers will face off against top-ranked TRL champion Tigard (28-3 overall) in the 6A state championship at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 4, at Jane Sanders Stadium on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.

"We have faced Tigard already in league and we know they're a great team," Riley said. "We will fight hard and play our game, because we (came) prepared to put ourselves in a position to win."

The two pitchers — Riley and Bend sophomore Addisen Fisher (she threw nine innings, allowing one earned run on five hits and two walks while striking out 21) — dominated throughout the game.

Fisher was perfect through four innings — striking out 10 of the first 12 batters she faced — before giving up fifth-inning singles to freshman Chloe Stromme and sophomore Reese Gardner, but getting a strikeout to end the threat.

Riley, meanwhile, allowed single baserunners in the first and second frames, then escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fifth with her eighth strikeout.

Oregon City managed the only hit — and only baserunner — for either team in the next three innings, a two-out single down the third base line by junior Allyson Nordling in the top of the seventh, but Fisher got another strikeout to strand Nordling at first.

But the Pioneers finally broke through in the top of the ninth when freshman Ellie Joseph singled and moved to third on a pair of wild pitches, junior Gina Allen walked and senior Phoebe Borkus was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Stromme then grounded to second and junior pinch runner Lily Castor beat the throw home to score the game's first run. Then, after one out, Riley reached base on an error by the Bend shortstop to bring home a second run, and Grimmer followed with a single to center field to plate both Stromme and Borkus to make it 4-0.

Bend opened its half of the ninth with a double by junior Sophia Weathers, but Riley set down the next three batters in order to seal the victory, getting a fly ball to Joseph and back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.

"I knew coming into this game that it was going to be a battle and we were going to have to fight for it because Bend is a very good team," Riley said. "I was confident in the circle knowing that my team would have my back and I had my catcher Reese Gardner behind the plate."

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