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A big game from junior pitcher Jenna Hopkins helped propel Kennedy softball into the quarterfinals.

Kennedy softball got past Weston-McEwen and through to the state quarterfinals in dramatic fashion on May 25 in Mount Angel.

After seven-and-a-half scoreless innings, the Trojans were able to get the winning run through in the bottom of the eighth inning. Freshman catcher Isabel Berning hit a single into left field to start the inning. After a line-out by fellow freshman Grace Talbot, junior pitcher Jenna Hopkins hit a double into left field to put Berning in scoring position at third.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Freshman Isabel Berning scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning to move Kennedy into the state quarterfinals.

In the game's final at-bat, senior Morgan Kyle singled to short stop to bring in Berning for the winning run.

Hopkins knew her double was the crucial piece of the puzzle Kennedy needed to overcome Weston-McEwen.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Kennedy junior Jenna Hopkins struck out 17 Weston-McEwen batters and hit a crucial double in the bottom of the eighth inning to help her team win the second round of the playoffs.

"I knew that I was due for a hit and our team does really well when we're thriving off others. As a leader on the team, I feel like it definitely helped the dugout and the next batter, Morgan. It made her more confident like, 'OK, we can do this, got a runner on third, one out, we're good.'"

Hopkins was near perfect from the circle. The star pitcher allowed just two hits over eight innings with no errors, no walks and no runs allowed, and struck out 17 of the 28 batters she faced. In addition, Hopkins bagged a pair of hits, both doubles, on the offensive end.

According to coach Walt Simmons, Hopkins is the team's leader during the good times and the difficult.

"She's been the backbone of the team as far as pitching," Simmons said. "She's number three in the lineup hitting, she likes that spot, give her maybe one extra at-bat per game. She's just a team leader, even when she makes a mistake she's still smiling and still positive. That's a good thing for this team to feed off of."

While Kennedy didn't score any runs until the death, the Trojans still managed to accrue 10 hits over the course of the game. Simmons said simply getting hits was enough to keep his team's confidence buoyed over the course of the game.

"I think in this case, we were putting the ball in play," Simmons said. "Weston-McEwen was making some great plays in the outfield and it's like that could have turned into a double, maybe a triple. So, I think if we're making contact and putting it in play, it gives them some confidence and I just try to let them know that."

Weston-McEwen (14-10) was no pushover coming into the second round of the 2A/1A state playoffs. The TigerScots spent the regular season battling it out with the likes of Grant Union/Prairie City and Union/Cove to earn their place in the postseason, and dominated Lost River 7-1 in the opening round.

Earning a win over a battle-tested team like Weston-McEwen was big, according to Hopkins.

"At the beginning of the season, I think we've improved so much since then," Hopkins said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game playing Weston-McEwen because they're in the same league as Grant Union. We knew it was going to be a tough game, and it feels really good to get past it and move on."

Kennedy (18-3) extends its winning streak to 12 straight as it heads into the quarterfinals to face off against Union/Cove (17-5). The Bobcats defeated Days Creek 11-1 in the second round of the playoffs. The Trojans' quarterfinal matchup will happen after the Independent goes to press.


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