By Jeremy McDonald
DALLAS, Ore.– The dynamic between Central and Dallas has always been rivarly like, and in a year where the Lady Dragons are rolling into the meeting Tuesday 23-0 against a Lady Panthers squad that thrown Dallas just one of their two tough games this Mid-Willamette Conference season, anything was possible.
When these two teams met last in Dallas on April 4, the Dragons walked away with a 3-1 victory Dallas was only challenged by South Albany on April 25 (4-1 game) before the Panther’s came in Tuesday and knocked their rival down as after Central’s Mariah Hyre RBI base-knock, the Panthers led 3-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
“I just thought we could pull through, I was relaxed,” said Central freshman pitcher Emily Cole who and her defense had held a sound offense in front of them to just one run entering the bottom of the seventh.
The Dragon’s Brandi Jackson and her coaching staff called in the team as they were preparing to roll out the bats one last time as they were looking for some sort of spark down two and looking for a win for the season sweep against a Panther team sitting tenth in 5A.
“You know I told them, I said, ‘If you try to do too much and we press, it’s not going to go our way. We need to make sure we have quality at-bats and runners on base’,” said Jackson of the message she sent to the team as they went out to hit.
Emily May laid down a nice bunt to start off the inning with a single, Maddy Friesen followed that with a good at-bat that resulted in a walk. Jayden Wynia laid down another bunt that forced Central into a bad throwing error at first that brought in two runs to tie the game at 3 apiece before Jordan Dipple forced the walk to load up the bases with no outs and the game winning run a sacrifice fly away from winning the game with Emma Classen coming to the plate.
“I wasn’t that nervous, I just knew I had to get the ball in play,” said Classen. “I think everyone did their job by getting on whatever way they can and it’s important to get base runners on when you can, they did a good job.”
During this time, the freshman in the circle in Cole was calm and relaxed and not all too nervous with the situation that the inning had became as she continued to hit the strike-zone regardless with the Dragon dugout continuously getting louder and louder with each passing pitch on Senior Night and it continued versus Classen.
But Classen would time-up a pitch just right from Cole that escaped the infield as the game-winning run came in with Dallas celebrating the Senior Night win as their winning streak extends to 24 games.
And though winning the game was nice for the Seniors and the undefeated season continues into Friday’s game versus the Rebels of South Albany in Albany, Tuesday’s game served as a eye-opener as they look to polish off the edges against the Albany squad and West Salem to close out the season.
“I think it shows that we can comeback from behind no matter how the fence is and that we can push through whatever we face,” said Classen as Dallas faced their first challenge in a good few games entering the homestretch. “It was good for us to put pressure on us, it was the first time we’ve seen this kind of pressure this year, I think it’s good for us to have show how much we want it.”
With Central hosting Corvallis for their Senior Night Wednesday before traveling to Woodburn and McNary to close out the season, the game was a good test for them entering the postseason in how to close the door against a good team like a Dallas.
“We played really well at the beginning, we struggled at the end but there’s errors that we need to pick up for our next games,” said the Panthers Peyton Shimanek. “It’s just our mentality, I mean there’s some plays that we’ve haven’t been making all season, it’s just getting in front of those in our next games.”