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- Written by Andy Wooldridge (CCCougarfan)
- Last Updated on June 27, 2012
- Published on May 25, 2007
- Hits: 2995
Patience and discipline propelled the Pac-West Champion Regis Rams to the semifinals. Unable to hit Sunset 6 Champion Gold Beach's master of movement Sophomore Pitcher Molly Hockema the first time thru the lineup, the Rams waited, collecting 4 walks in the first 2 innings, and seeing a lot of pitches.
Then, with third hitter Alex Minten up first in the 3rd., Regis strung together 4 straight hits for 2 runs, which coupled with a freebie in the first, off a walk to Minten and an error in right field, they had all the runs Rams' Pitcher Shannon Smith would need to stay on the outside edge of the zone, and extend the longest winning streak in the state on the diamonds, any size, any class, to 26. And set up a third home playoff game for the Rams, 27-1, 18-0, Tuesday against Valley Catholic, 20-5, 11-1, who defeated Vernonia 4-0.
With only 1 lefty in the Panther lineup, Smith stayed on the outside almost exclusively, which took away the Gold Beach power. As Smith said afterwards, "I had to find the zone, and then stay there." Smith's discipline to work the outside edge produced only 5 strikeouts, but no walks, and a lot of opportunities for the Ram defense to do their job. Smith described the error-free defensive effort as "Amazing defense. I had to trust them!"
The Rams needed that, as the Panthers kept getting out of what could have been blowout situations. Hockema also booked 5 strikeouts, but gave up 5 walks. However, the Rams were shut down time and again, leaving runners on base in each of the first 5 innings, and the bases loaded in the second and third innings. A total of 6 of the 9 Ram runners stranded were in scoring position.
Gold Beach went down in order in the first inning, but Emmy Yeiter and Ashley Weber got to Smith for consecutive hits in the second. A strikeout and a flyout to right left them stranded though. But after that, only a slow roller to short in the 3rd. that Miranda Hunnicut beat out interrupted 4 otherwise perfect innings by Smith.
In the 3rd. inning, following Minten's leadoff hit to center, Elizabeth Olheiser followed with a single to left. Olheiser went to second as the Panthers held Minten at third. Sarah Norman followed with a run scoring shot to center, and then Bobbie Crocker drove another hit to center to score Olheiser. Amanda Olheiser laid down a bunt, but the Hockema fielded it and tagged Norman out coming home. After a walk to load the bases, Hockema got out of more trouble by ending the inning with 2 strikeouts.
Regis got a single runner on in both the 4th. & 5th. without scoring, as Hockema's movement shut down the Rams, and kept Gold Beach within striking distance, while Smith was working her own pitching gem.
But once again, after taking a good look at Hockema, the Rams doubled their lead in the 6th. inning when the top of the order came up. Katie Butterfield dropped a single to right field, and went to second on Smith's bunt. A line drive double to the gap in left center by Minten scored Butterfield. E. Olheiser drove a hit back at Hockema, and the ball took a bad hop at the circle, winding up in center field, and Minten wound up at home. Norman flew out to right, which advanced E. Olheiser to third, and a wild pitch put the Rams up 6-0.
The Panthers didn't head for the bus early though, with the middle of the order up in the 7th. Hockema led off with a line drive to left off one of the rare pitches Smith came inside with. Smith got her 5th. strikeout against Yeiter, but lefty Weber doubled to left center to score Hockema. Smith closed it out though, getting Macall Marstall to bump one back to her, and it ended on a Tana Miller pop up to Norman at first. Gold Beach ended their season 22-3, 14-1.
Rams Coach Doug Highberger was happy about the Rams' ability to capitalize when "Gold Beach had a little control trouble." He wasn't so happy about the number of runners the Rams stranded, though. "We had way too many left on!" But his Senior pitcher was again key, as Highberger described, "Shannon did a nice job." He's also happy about the Rams' good fortune of playing all their playoff games at home, noting "The schedule couldn't be nicer." as we watched Smith rake out her pitching circle after the game. Highberger noted "They like to take care of their own areas." And star pitcher Smith, who will only get to use her pitching circle one more time, had it groomed to perfection.
Gold Beach 000 000 1 - 1 5 1
Regis 102 003 x - 6 9 0
Hockema (L) & Hunnicut. Smith (W) & Minten. 2B - Minten ( R ), Marstall (GB). Umpires - Tolle, Edwards, Palunak.