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Kani Korok drives in four runs, while Tigers pitcher Makenna Reid strikes out 17 to push Tigard over Newberg.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Tigard pitcher Makenna Reid hurls a pitch during the home Tigers' win over Newberg in the state quarterfinals Friday, May 27, at Tigard High School. Reid struck out 17 in the game.Three down, two to go.

The Tigard softball team earned another hard-fought victory in this year's state playoffs, defeating Newberg 5-0 Friday evening, May 27, at Tigard High School.

As a reward for their victory the Tigers will make their first semifinal appearance since 1991 and will face McNary for an opportunity to play for a state championship—something the program has never won.

Tigard standout pitcher Makenna Reid was again dominant, allowing just three hits while striking out 17 and walking two. Reid acknowledged the game was intense from the start, but added that she not only enjoys the heightened intensity, but feeds off of it as well.

"I just take it like I don't want to lose a game," Reid said. "I don't want my career to end. We all have a goal in mind, and there's just two more games."

In addition to Reid's work in the circle, the Tigers were led by senior third baseman Kani Korok who did the bulk of Tigard's damage at the plate, finishing 2-for-2 with a walk and four RBI, including a bases loaded double that blew the game open in the fifth inning.

Korok said she respected standout Newberg pitcher Serayah Neiss, but at the same time was comforted by the experience she'd had from facing her in the past.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Tigard third baseman Kani Korok celebrates her fifth-inning two-RBI double during the home Tigers' win over Newberg in the state quarterfinals Friday, May 27, at Tigard High School. Korok had four RBI in the game."I've been facing Serayah for years, so I know what to expect at the plate," Korak said. "So, I think we came in with the anticipation that we were gonna come and hit the ball. And we did."

It took them a bit however, for neither team found a groove until Korok plated Ella Dardis and Nozomi Akin with a two-out single off the outstretched glove of Newberg shortstop Brooklyn Mills to put the home Tigers ahead 2-0 in the third inning.

Newberg appeared poised to respond a half-inning later when catcher Abby Carsley reached on a hit-by-pitch then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Scarlett Olivas. But after Reid walked Mills to put the tying run aboard, the standout pitcher struck out back-to-back Newberg batters, holding the visitors scoreless and maintaining the dominance she'd started three innings prior.

"I think definitely in the beginning of the game it was pretty intense," Reid said. "I thought I threw good. I knew they would come out swinging, so it was definitely good. I thought I didn't have a lot of misses, and I felt good about getting out of jams."

Korak's fifth-inning hit came after Tigard loaded the bases with singles by Dardis and Akin, followed by an intentional walk to Karen Spadafora. With the count 2-2 and Korak already having fouled two balls off, the senior sent the next pitch off the right field wall, plating Dardis and Akin and finishing what she'd started three at-bats and five innings prior.

"I went in with the mentality that I was going to foul anything off until I got a pitch that I knew I could smash, and that's what I did," Korak said. "You know, my teammates rely on me and I rely on them. So, I just got to get the job done for all of us."

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Tigard sophomore Ella Dardis runs for third base during the home Tigers' win over Newberg in the state quarterfinals Friday, May 27, at Tigard High School.Reid said she wasn't surprised by Korak's clutch performance, and in fact said she saw it coming.

"You can just tell when she's going to hit," Reid said. "The whole time today I was just telling her, 'you got it, come on.' So that was really big for her and I'm really proud of her."

Tigard's trip to the semis is not surprising based on their performance throughout the season, one in which they've lost just three of their 30 contests. With a steady mix of both upper and underclassmen coupled with the odd pandemic-induced schedule of the past couple of years, Korak said building team chemistry was difficult. But now, with three months and an entire season under their belt, it's that chemistry that the senior infielder said is responsible for what they're doing in the postseason.

"We needed to work harder because we had such a long break but I think once we kind of bonded our chemistry is what got us there," Korak said. "I think our chemistry is what we're riding on."

Tigard's game with McNary is scheduled for 5 p.m. on May 31, at Tigard High School.

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