When Scappoose softball coach Catherine Baggett talked about her team's ability to overcome the highest of odds, it wasn't some pie-in-the-sky coach speak.
Baggett firmly believes that with Scappoose's propensity to get hot in a hurry at the plate and pile up hits, the Indians can overcome any deficit. It's a message trickled down from the coaches to the players, who have bought into the never-say-die mentality.
Facing its northern rival, in the last "Seven-Mile War" of the season, Scappoose continued to prove its skipper right. Trailing St. Helens 8-5 in the bottom of the seventh, the Indians scored two unearned runs to come within 8-7. Then, with runners in scoring position and two out, Scappoose senior Sara Mills scribed her name in the Seven Mile lore, ripping the game-winning two-run triple to center to give the Indians a 9-8 win at Scappoose on Friday, May 3.
"We say, 'Don't play for yourself, play for the person next to you,'" Scappoose senior Nina Macedo said. "We all string together hits and make plays for the whole team, not just ourselves or our stats. We're a family, and that helped a lot in the seventh. There's a lot of trust you put in your teammates to help the team win."
"It's our mind-set," Scappoose senior catcher Jenny Ramirez said. "Down three runs, we knew we're going to do it. It's about who is the strongest team mentally. We were down, but we still came out on top as the strongest team."
With the bottom of Scappoose's batting order coming up in the bottom of the seventh, St. Helens sophomore pitcher Brea Paulson in a groove and a three-run cushion, the Lions had every advantage needed to come out victorious. But Scappoose can't be counted out of any ball game.
Scappoose's Maddie Templin was hit by a pitch to lead off the seventh, then Sophie Hering and Ramirez each reached base on consecutive errors. With the bags full and Savannah Nowak at the dish, Templin scored on a wild pitch to make the score 8-6. Then Nowak drove in a run to pull Scappoose within 8-7.
Still, St. Helens' defense was able to nab Ramirez at third with a great relay throw from the outfield. And, after a bunt single by Taylor Johnson, Scappoose senior Payton Fisher hit into a fielder's choice for the second out. All St. Helens needed was one more out, and all would be forgiven and forgotten. Yet Mills came up clutch, dialing up the hard-hit shot to right-center that completed the wild, seventh-inning revival.
"I think (St. Helens) got in their own heads a little bit," Macedo said. "We needed those runs to win. They needed those outs. (Mills) hit for the girls next to her and got the job done."
"They're our rivals, and we played Scappoose ball against them," Ramirez said with a smile. "We showed them who we really are this game and showed we can come back to the top even if we're at the bottom."
The win was particularly sweet for Ramirez, who transferred from St. Helens before the school year started. Seeking more playing time and the chance to show her skills, Ramirez transferred south and got a bit of revenge by helping stir up the seventh-inning rally.
"I knew I wasn't going to be able to be on their team because I wasn't good enough for them," Ramirez said. "But beating them as the starting catcher is just amazing. There's a little bit of (trash) talk here, talk there. It's a little more aggressive. We still respect them, but it was great winning. We stomped on them."
Both teams clobbered the softball throughout as each squad racked up 10 hits. Macedo and Mills each had three hits, and Fisher bagged two. Mills led Scappoose with three RBIs.
The difference came in the field. Scappoose didn't commit an error while St. Helens made seven. So, while the lead swung to and fro five times as the two foes bashed each other with the bats, Scappoose didn't hurt itself even as St. Helens got out to an 8-4 lead in the top of the sixth. Instead, the Indians stayed the course and kept putting the ball in play against Paulson in the hope something good would turn around.
It was the Indians' fourth straight victory and punctuated Scappoose's first winning streak of the year.
"St. Helens is the team to beat every year," Macedo said with a smile. "Last year, we did it. This year, we did it. After losing to them a few weeks ago (7-2 on April 17), this feels really good. We've been working really hard, especially during practices for this game."
Scappoose returned this week and lost 3-1 to La Salle Prep on Tuesday, then fell 9-0 at Putnam on Wednesday.
Now the Indians are down to their final four league games — they'll be at home at 5 p.m. Friday against Hillsboro and 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 15 versus Milwaukie. They also have a makeup road game at South Albany set for May 16.