By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– It was probably one of their most complete games they’ve played, and it couldn’t have came at the most right time.
Using strong defense, and timely hits to bring home baserunners, the North Marion Lady Huskie softball team brought home the 4-2 win to advance to the field of 16 in the OSAA 4A Playoffs.
“I would say it was our first complete game we’ve played all season,” said Ally Umbenhower on the game. “It’s a very good time to come out and give it our all and I felt like we did a great job today.”
Umbenhower was a crucial member of that defense Wednesday, making key plays at her third-base position to go along with strong play from other spots as well.
But it was almost not to be.
Entering the seventh inning, North Marion had a 4-0 lead and stud pitcher Mica Harrington had a one-hitter going before the La Grande made a Grand rally.
Kali Avlia broke the shutout with a RBI Triple, second hit allowed by Harrington all game. An error allowed Avlia to score from third to make it 4-2 as a runner was one first.
Harper got a pop-out at her shortstop position followed by a Coug single as the tying run stood at first.
Then, the Huskies remembered the timeout that Head Coach Rachel Camp called moments ago before Avlia’s score:
“I went out there and talked to them and say, ‘hey calm down we’re ok, we just get the outs we’re good, we don’t have to worry about the girl on third’,” started Camp. “And just reminding them that it’s all ok.”
Remembering that, that single was the last hit La Grande got as Kelsie Henry made the last out to seal both team’s fates.
“That seventh inning, that was our scary ending,” said Harrington. “I just trust my girls back there, yeah I let one, the girl got a hold of it, it was a nice shot in the gap. But I just trust my team enough to pull it together and we got the win.”
But that inning as here nor there as both teams, outside of a hit by the Cougars, both teams had retired all but that one entering the bottom of the third inning.
“We just decided to come out strong,” said Harrington. “That’s what we talked about in our team meeting in the team room, we need to start strong, they’re record may not say a lot, they said that they have a 60-mile an hour and she has a nasty rise ball so we tried to hit the ball and make contact and our job was just to hit the ball in the field and hopefully we score.”
Soon enough, the strategy Camp described of playing strong, staying strong and finishing strong pulled through as the Huskies bats broke through.
Sonia Jimenez with a double, Umbenhower with a bunt single to have runners on the corner with one out.
That’s when the timely hit of Tori Harper came through with a bases clearing RBI Triple to give her team a 2-0 lead entering the fourth.
“That hit changed the momentum of the game because it made everybody that the pitcher was hitable. I think we just need to believe in ourselves and once we do that, we’re unstoppable.”
Those timely hits and runs came at the right times.
A Cougar error allowed Harrington to come home in the fourth and in the sixth, the shot heard all around the campus.
During that inning, Shae Lynn Tyson reminded people of her bat power from her junior varsity days because as soon as she made contact with the pitch, the ball soared over the center field fence and through the trees to give North Marion a 4-0 leading entering the seventh inning.
Though they conquered the adversity in that seventh inning, the Huskies know they can carry the momentum over to the field of 16.
No matter who they are facing.
“I think we need to keep this game going into the next one and just keep it rolling,” said Harper. “We can’t bring ourselves down. We have a tendency to do that and I think we’re doing a lot better.”
Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter at @J_McDonald81 or like Jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!
PHOTO GALLERY (PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD)