By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School varsity softball team added two wins and a loss to its record last week, but the team continues to exceed some of the highest expectations of its coach.
“One girl gets a hit and then it triggers everyone else. It seems like every game we have another girl who really steps up with a home run or extra base hit, and usually there are two or three girls that do this,” said Kevin Wise, McNary head coach.
The Lady Celts dominated in a 12-5 win over Forest Grove High School Wednesday, April 2. The following day, the girls took a 20-8 loss to Rex Putnam High School. The Celts rode an early lead to take a win over Jesuit High School Monday, April 7.
In the Forest Grove game, the Vikings took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but a six-run second inning for the Celts put the Keizer team far ahead.
Junior Megan Ulrey pitched five innings for McNary allowing four hits and two runs. Ulrey led the team with a 5 for 5 performance at the dish with a double, four singles and a RBI.
Ulrey’s double ignited the Celts in the top of the second. She advanced to third on a dropped strike ball with Madi Oliver at bat. Nicole Duran lined out to the Viking pitcher, but Hannah Carr hit a hard grounder to right field that scored Ulrey and moved Oliver to third. Carr was caught stealing second as Sarah Jensen bunted and scored Oliver. Kinsey McNaught’s single put her on first and and Jensen on second, setting up Kimi Ito for a three-bagger scoring McNaught and Jensen. Senior Dani Saunders drew a walk and Kiana Villarreal drove in Ito and Saunders on a line drive to centerfield. The Celts exited the inning on a line drive by Oliver that was caught at second base, but the team had a 6-1 lead.
“The bottom line here is that we can hit well one through nine. There are really no weak spots in our lineup, and the girls don’t seem to be intimidated by any pitcher we face,” Wise said.
McNary added two runs in the fourth, one in the sixth and three in seventh for the final score. Forest Grove’s biggest inning was a two-run sixth.
McNaught went 4 for 5 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Villarreal went 3 for 5 with four RBIs and a run scored.
McNary was trailing 20-0 by the time the team rallied in the fifth inning of the game with Rex Putnam. By then, it was too little too late.
“It was just one of those games that nothing went well from the start. As soon as we arrived the wind started blowing hard and the rain started beating down. We basically shut down at that point. We did not pitch well, play defense, or hit well,” Wise said. “But, this team never gives up, and they definitely showed their fight at the end.”
The Kingsmen put up an eight-run first inning and a nine-run fourth inning which was enough to end the game after five innings. The Lady Celts had precious few base runners in the first four innings, but Kingmen pitcher Brooke Snyder lost some of her swagger in the circle and more runs on the board with bags on bases than McNary did hitting in the fifth.
Carr and McNaught made it to second and first on walks and Ito loaded the bases on a single. Carr scored when Saunders drew a walk, and Villarreal scored McNaught from third base on a single. Two more walks scored Ito and Saunders. Duran singled driving in Villarreal. Carr walked and scored Ulrey. A single by McNaught brought in Oliver and Duran. The inning ended with an out at second on a fielder’s choice.
In the game with Jesuit, McNary answered a three-run first inning by the Crusaders with six runs of its own in the bottom of the frame.
The first Celtic run came on a walk scoring McNaught and loading the bases. Ito scored on a wild pitch. A single by Ulrey scored Saunders before Oliver stepped to the plate for a base-clearing home run over the centerfield fence, and the 6-3 lead.
The Keizer team survived a three-run, seventh inning rally by Jesuit to take the win 9-7. Oliver had five RBIs in her 2 for 4 day at the plate. Ulrey and Duran both had doubles.
Wise said the plan was to have all of the girls comfortable in their roles on the team heading into Central Valley Conference play.
“We are very close right now, other than a few small things that we can fix with repetition,” Wise said. “No. 3 Tualatin is going to be a great test for us (the teams met Wednesday, past press time) and then we play South. It’s going to be a big week.”