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- Written by Andy Wooldridge (CCCougarfan)
- Published on June 1, 2007
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West Valley League rivals, they split 1 run games in the regular season. The Valiants (21-5, 11-1, and West Valley Champions coming in) have shut out their opponents 4-0 in both the quarters and semi finals, after allowing only 1 run in the opener. The Bulldogs (24-3, 10-2 coming in) wrapped shutouts around a quarterfinal win they allowed 1 run in. It set up what should be a very tight contest, as both teams rode ace pitchers, Jr. Sami Picken for Valley, and Freshman Caralyn Chewning for Willamina, to the rubber game of their rivalry.
But the Valiants jumped on Bullpup errors "Valiantly", and repeatedly, blowing the game open after 3 scoreless opening innings. The Valiants played error free ball to support Picken defensively, and pounded out 8 hits to go with 7 Bulldog errors, while Picken allowed only 2 hits in the walk-free game.
2 errors led to disaster in the 4th. for the Bulldogs, and 2 more contributed to burying them in the 6th.
Chewning struck out the first two Valiants, and got a grounder to short for the out at first to start the game.
Chewning lofted a Picken pitch to left for the first Bulldog out, but Picken struck out the next 2 batters to make it 0-0, 2K-2K after 1.
It's a K for Chewning against Emily Becker, then an easy out for the first baseman, before Maggie Hastretier drives a single to right. A wild pitch advances her to 2nd., but Chewning gets her 4th. strike out on Picken to end the threat.
Chewning is throwing a lot of high stuff. Dangerous territory.
Brandi Shell started the second with a strikeout, then Randi Kaiser survived a foul fly dropped at the edge of the Bulldog dugout, but finally struck out. Picken then gunned down Brianna Anderson on 3 pitches to take the K lead, 5-4, in the no run game.
After a foul off the catcher's mask is caught not for an out, Carly Verboort drove a ball to second which was thrown high to first for an error. Obstruction was ruled, but second wasn't awarded. No matter, after a strikeout, Gretta Mannen laid down a bunt Bulldog first baseman Emily Becker threw into right for another error, and Verboort reached 3rd. Mannen moved to second on a no throw, and then Emily Keagbine drove a fly to deep center. Both runners tagged and advanced, apparently scoring Verboort. Willamina appealed and Verboort was called out for leaving early. (Highly debated call.) Only possibility was a rocking motion on the retag that might have been mis-timed slightly.
Picken responded with 2 more Ks and a pop back to her to quickly send it to the 4th., still tied 0-0.
Tara Baglai drove a liner down the right line called fair, but she was later sent back, foul ball. No problem, she drove a hit to left center. Emily Becker followed with a bunt the first baseman threw by the second baseman into right field, advancing Baglai to third. Valerie Barry laid down a bunt, and reached as the Bulldogs held the Baglai at 3rd. Hastreiter laid down a bunt third baseman Micayla Rock fielded. She tried to tag Baglai, but missed, and then threw wild to home, allowing Baglai and Becker to score. Chewning struck out Picken, but Verboort grounded out to first, scoring Barry. Suratt struck out to end the inning, but the Valiants were up 3-0.
Picken got a grounder to second and a strikeout before Megan Stackhouse dropped a ball in left between the shortstop, left fielder, and center fielder. But a Brandi Shell popup to the shortstop ended the 4th., with the Valiants up 3-0.
Keagbine dropped a single in left, and went to second on a passed ball after a ground out for the second out. Then Becker curled in another hit to left to score Keagbine. Chewning got a foul fly on Barrie to end the inning, but now they had a 4-0 lead, for the 3rd. straight playoff game.
Picken struck out Randi Keyser, then Anderson drove one to deep left, but right at Verboort. Picken then fired her 10th. K (strikeout) at Ricki Keyser to end the 5th.
With 1 out in the 6th., Picken drove a hit thru the third basewoman Rock's glove, and SS Randi Kaiser threw it in the Valley Catholic dugout, sending Picken to second.
Carly Hoshowski took over for Picken as a pinch runner, and went to 3rd. on a wild pitch. Verboort bunted, and reached on a error when the ball was dropped at first. Suratt drove in Hoshowski with a solid single to center.
Chewning got Mannen out on a bunt, but Keagbine doubled to left field to score Suratt. Baglai grounded out, but the Valiants were on their way, up 6-0.
After Picken struck out Linda Clemente, and got Sherae Cumberland to bump an easy one back to her, Chewning drove a triple off the center field wall. But Picken's 12 strikeout on Catrina Shell stranded Chewning, and sent the game to the seventh.
Chewning got 2 outs on grounders, but what should have been the third one was an error on Randi Kaiser at short, and Hastreiter was on second. Picken singled to left, and Hanstreiter rounded third headed for home, but the throw home was well ahead of her. She doubled back to third, and was apparently out. With umpires in left field, at first, and at home, she was initially called safe, but the umpires then huddled, and correctly called her out to send it to the bottom of the seventh.
Picken and the Valiants could taste Bulldog blood in the water, and went hard after the last 3 outs. The Bulldogs didn't tuck their taile, though, but it wasn't to be. Stackhouse drilled a shot right at third base, but Barry gunned her out at first. Picken fired her 13th. strikeout at Shell, and faced Randi Kaiser looking for the title. Kaiser fought off a couple fouls deep down the left side, and far into the stands on the right side. But when she got a square hold of one, it was straight to Mannen in Center, and the Valiants were the State Champions.
Picken finished with 13 strike outs while allowing 2 hits. Chewning's effort was better than the score indicated, with 7 strike outs, but 8 hits combined with 7 errors equaled a tough afternoon. Neither pitcher issued a walk.
After the photo shoot ended, Coach Roni Illias commented on the relentless Valiant effort, saying "The girls were really wanting to play hard. And (just like against Regis), they capitalized on every error they could. And the freshmen (which make up the bottom of the order) were hitting well again. We knew they were a really good team, but we have been practicing all year long for this. There was nothing to be nervous about."
Contrasted with the Bulldogs, who the Valiants were successful in making very nervous. Illias, referring to a number of bunts, noted "We changed things up, and made them make plays. It got them a little rattled."
Picken noted the way the game unfolded too. "We had a few breaks. We were expecting a 1-0 game. When we got up 3-0, we were really relieved. But it boosted us, and we continued playing good defense. We felt lucky, but just kept building. (In the past) we have tended to have just 1 big inning. But Willamina is a good team, and this is the State Championship game. 3 runs was not enough."
Valley Catholic added a softball championship to a boys' basketball championship and a second place finish by their girls' basketball team in their first year playing down from what in now 4A, making it a very dominating entrance to the arena of smaller schools. But it wasn't an easy transition. Picken talked about that, noting that "Going down in class, we didn't know exactly what to expect, though we played Willamina last year also. Overall, 3A is not as strong, but the good teams, the Willaminas, Daytons, Regis, the good teams are just as good as the good 4A & 5A teams and players. There just aren't as many of them."
But with Willamina losing only 3 players, and a freshman pitcher in Chewning returning, and VC losing only 2 seniors, a couple of those "good" teams just might see a lot more of each other next year.
Valley Catholic 000 312 0 - 6 8 0
Willamina 000 000 0 - 0 2 7
Picken (W) & Baglai, Chewning (L) & Stackhouse. 3B - Chewning (W). Umpires - Bottita, Davis, Tolle.(Oregonprepsports.net wishes to thank the Corvallis Hilton Garden Inn for their hospitality and assistance with this report. Continuing technical difficulties at OSU delayed this and other reports.)