Facing down some of the top talent in a Medford softball tournament, the McNary High School Lady Celts mustered two wins in four games.
McNary beat South Eugene and Glencoe high schools, but fell to Liberty and Eagle Point high schools.
A late rally spared Liberty from taking a loss to the Lady Celts Monday, March 24. McNary had a 5-4 lead going into the final frame, but the Falcons (the No. 5 team in 5A rankings) scored twice in their last turn at bat, escaping with a 6-5 win.
In the first inning, McNary’s Kiana Villarreal doubled, scoring Kimi Ito from third base, but Liberty scored two in the bottom of the inning. Nicole Duran knotted the game 2-2 with a solo home run over the left field fence in the top of the second inning. Villarreal followed suit with her own solo shot over the left field fence in the third inning for the 3-2 lead.
Liberty nearly got a tying run in the fourth inning, but McNary’s Kinsey McNaught grabbed a grounder at shortstop and got a Falcon runner out at home plate. Liberty got a tying run across the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Villareal put the Celts in the lead again with her second home run of the day over the centerfield fence in the sixth inning, but Liberty answered with one of their own in the bottom of the frame. Celt Sarah Jensen scored on a McNaught double in the top of the seventh to put the Celtics up 5-4. A Falcon double with runners on first and second tied the match and a follow-up single brought in the go-ahead run for Liberty.
Megan Ulrey had seven strikeouts in the circle for McNary.
Later that day, McNary battled South Eugene High School to a 5-3 win. McNary senior Dani Saunders drove in the team’s first two runs on a triple in the first inning. Saunders crossed the plate on a single by Villarreal to give the Keizer team a 3-0 lead.
Saunders scored again on an error in the third inning, and Madi Oliver doubled to drive in Ulrey for the team’s final run. The Axemen notched single runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings. Saunders, Oliver and Ito all had doubles.
On Tuesday, March 25, the Lady Celts beat Glencoe, the No. 9 team in 6A ranking, 7-4. Villarreal doubled to bring in Ito in the first inning for a 1-0 lead and scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
A scoreless second inning for both teams gave way to another run for the Celts in the top of the third. Saunders scored on an Ulrey single.
In the seventh inning, still up 3-1, the Celts went on a three-run offensive spree. The Falcons loaded the bases and Saunders and Villareal scored on a single by Oliver. Ulrey scored on a single by Kailey Fritts. The Crimson Tide never swung momentum their way in the loss.
Another late rally by the opponents, this time Eagle Point, saw the Keizer team lose its final game 4-3.
All of the Celts’ runs came in the fifth inning. McNaught doubled to bring in Oliver and Fritts. Saunders scored McNaught on a single and the McNary took a 3-1 lead.
Fielding errors in the bottom of the seventh inning led to the tying and game-winning runs for Eagle Point.