Softball: Woodburn bats come alive in season's first wins
The Woodburn-Chemawa softball rivalry is only two years old, but it has already produced some exciting games between the two independent programs.
In 2017, the Braves handed the Bulldogs a 22-18 loss at the Chemawa campus in Salem. Last week, Woodburn was eager to repay the favor, handing the Braves a 23-11 loss at home on April 24, followed by an 18-4 win at Chemawa on Thursday.
The contests were the first of a three-game series that ends this week when the Bulldogs were scheduled to host the Braves at home on Tuesday, and Woodburn head coach Levi Arias is looking forward to seeing his team fight for its first three-game win streak since 2007.
"We'd like to get the sweep," Arias said.
Woodburn will be moving back to a full conference schedule next season, so the opportunities to schedule a mid-season series against the Braves will be difficult. But he's hoping that the two programs can continue their relationship going forward.
"We'll work it out to see if they still want to continue to play us in the future," Arias said. "We'd love to keep playing – they're a good, fun team to play with."
The two teams were relatively evenly matched in their opening game last week. Chemawa came out strong in the opening inning, leading with aggressive base running that put the Bulldogs down 5-0 when they came to the plate in the bottom of the inning.
"After going down, there's only three things that I told the girls – I told them they scored five runs on us, but now it's our turn," Arias said. "Let's hit the ball, let's run the bases and let's score."
Freshman infielder Eliana Arechiga took Arias' pep talk quite literally. With two runners on base, Arechiga hit a line drive to shallow right field, driving in both runners for a standup double. Or at least it would have been if Arechiga had stopped running.
Instead, despite the fact that the ball was back in Chemawa's possession, she continued on to third base. The surprised Braves players didn't expect the move and hesitated getting the ball to third base, bobbling the catch and tag that would have gotten Arechiga out.
Not satisfied, the Woodburn freshman decided to press her luck and continue on to home. The Braves attempted to throw her out, but the catcher dropped the catch and Arechiga crossed home plate for a three-run, inside the park home run that put an exclamation point on what would go on to be a 10-run inning for the Bulldogs.
"Being that she's a freshman, it's like a wild horse that hasn't been tamed," Arias said. "She's aggressive. She's one of our best players who runs the bases. As time goes on, she'll learn to be more conservative and more under control."
For the next two innings, the two teams were more under control. Woodburn plated four runs in the bottom of the second, but Chemawa matched them with a pair of runs each in the second and third. The Braves added one more in the fourth to make it a 14-10 ball game before the Bulldogs exploded for nine more runs to put the game out of reach.
Rachel Bacon led the team, going 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Hailey Oliva added a pair of hits and scored five runs, while Arechiga finished 2-for-4 with her home run and a pair of runs scored.
The follow-up game was a much more defensively conservative contest for the Bulldogs, who built a 12-0 lead before the Braves plated their first two runs in the bottom of the third. Pitcher Marina Salazar had her best game of the year, holding Chemawa to just four hits in six innings, while striking out four and giving up two earned runs.
"Marina Salazar really came through putting the ball over the plate," Arias said. "That allowed us to play some good defense."
On offense, the Bulldogs tallied 17 hits, led by big performances from Bacon and Jordan Mann. Bacon went 4-for-4 with four runs scored, while Mann was 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, three runs scored and three RBIs.
That second game was much more under control, and it was a real fun game for the girls," Arias said. "It was a good game to lift these girls up."
After the scheduled third game of the series this week, Woodburn (2-12) follows at home against the Nestucca Bobcats (4-12, 0-9 2A Northwest League) on Wednesday before finishing the week at Crescent Valley (3-14, 0-13 5A Mid-Willamette).