A year after winning a state championship in the 12-and-younger age group, a St. Helens Girls Softball team placed second at a recent 14-and-under state tournament.
The St. Helens Black Ops team reached the championship round at the USA Softball of Oregon 14-C State/Regional Tournament that was played June 22-23 at Timber Linn Park in Albany.
The C level of girls fastpitch is for teams that do not travel and primarily play in local leagues and tournaments. The Black Ops team consists of girls from St. Helens, Scappoose and Clatskanie.
Black Ops went 6-2 at state, losing to Albany-based Hub City in the championship round of the double-elimination tournament.
After a 7-5 loss to Gresham-based Affliction, the Black Ops won three loser-out games to reach the championship round. They beat the Lake Oswego Renegades 9-2 and the Sherwood Fireballs 7-6 before eliminating Affliction 4-3.
Back Ops head coach Jeff Kroll noted the team fought to overcome some key injuries and fatigue to finish second at the eight-team tournament.
"I am extremely proud of these girls. They fought hard with their backs against the wall and came up just one place short of repeating as state champs," Kroll said.
Pitching for the Black Ops at the tournament were Harley Wilson and Emma Sparkman. Wilson pitched 16 innings and struck out 22 of the 86 batters she faced. Sparkman pitched 14 innings and struck out 16 of the 67 batters she faced.
Among the highlights of the tournament, according to Kroll:
n The defensive work of shortstop Kai Quevido and second baseman Mackenzie Stuber.
n The play in center field of Cydney Brandt, who normally plays in the middle infield.
n Strong throws from catcher Ruby Nelson that kept opposing base runners in check.
n Timely hitting and key RBIs from Megan Kroll and Mackenzie Dowdy.
n The efforts of Catherine Johnston, Paige Taylor and Kaylee Filkowski, who each played out of her normal position.
Through the state tournament, Black Ops have a record of 14-8-1 and have outscored opponents 268-135.
Helping Kroll coach the Black Ops are Mike Powell and Ryan Nelson.
Black Ops will play in a tournament in mid-July and in a North American Fastpitch Association national tournament July 25-28 in Newberg.
Lady Lockdown second
In the 12-and-younger C Division of the USA Softball of Oregon State/Regional, the Lady Lockdown of St. Helens Girls Softball bounced back from an opening loss to take second place.
The 15-team tournament was played June 21-23 at Albany.
Lady Lockdown won six loser-out games — three of them by one run — after dropping their opener by one run. They avenged their opening loss to the Lake Oswego Renegades by beating them 5-3 to advance to the championship round against the Sherwood Fireballs.
The Fireballs beat Lady Lockdown 9-3 to clinch the state title.
Another St. Helens team, Ultraviolet, went 1-2 at the 12U tournament. UltraViolet won its first game, then lost to Sherwood (which finished 4-0 to win the title) and dropped their first loser-out game.
The Lady Lockdown roster:
Saige Casey, Brooklyn Schmidt, Addy Ellis, Elizabeth Griffith, Gwen Seeley, Madelyn Lahey, Maddie Sutherland, Bella Muechel, Danni Tracy and Mercedes Shafer.
Businesses that help sponsor St. Helens Girls Softball include Northwest Plumbing Services, St. Helens Auto Center, Napa Auto Parts Warehouse, Papa Murphy's St. Helens, Stan's Refrigeration, Tactical Ordnance and Ammunition, Sherlock's Neighborhood Grocery, Les Schwab Tires, RSG Forest Products and Jackpot Market.
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