By Jeremy McDonald
BEAVERTON, Ore.– For a team playing up, most of them being between sixth- and eighth-grade going up against some High School Freshman, the NW Vandals 14A team found themselves in their second Championship Game in their second tournament of the season.
Having gone five games behind great defense, the bats of the Vandals finally came around in their Blaze Invite Gold Bracket Title bout up 5-1 on the Canby Rebels 14A squad.
But those bats became super important down the stretch with the Rebels storming back, taking advantage of the NW Vandals hiccups defensively as the game was tied entering the International Tiebreaker in the eighth inning.
“It’s really important especially with the bases loaded and one of our smallest girls, they underestimated her and it’s super sweet to see that she rock on out. It was super important,” said Brooklyn Jackson, who went 3-for-4 with four RBIs in the Championship Game win.
Jackson, an eighth-grader who’s older Jacob is a Senior at McNary High School on their baseball team, was talking about Lexi Cockerill-Gonzales. Cockerill-Gonzales’ lone hit of the game as a bases loaded triple that handed the Vandals a 13-10 lead heading into the bottom half of the eighth inning.
That’s when it came down to their defense to be as clutch as they were the inning prior to keep the Canby Rebels from winning the game. In the seventh inning a 3-2-5 double play ended the threat as McKenzie Scott and Desirae Hatfield tagged team for a rundown along the third baseline resulting in Hatfield making the game-saving tag.
Allison Parker came in for relief of Payton Burnham in the seventh inning and pitched the eighth inning after pitching the Vandals to victory in the Semi-Final round earlier in the day, knew it came down to another big stop to walk away with their first tournament win of the season.
“It was pretty intense. I felt a lot of pressure, but its only to get better from here,” said Parker of the last two innings of the 13-11 win. “Just going from the last inning (seventh) where we had a few errors to this inning (the eighth). We’ve had diving plays and everyone was talking, it was great to have that behind my back that we had it.”
Parker pitched eight innings striking out five as four Vandal pitchers pitched in the Championship game Sunday afternoon.
The Rebels had Brokoklyn Corliss set up at second to start the inning, part of the International Tiebreaker rules, Corliss would later score on a groundball that also saw a nice dive and put-out by Margo White.
White, who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs batting, made stops defensively that helped the Vandals stay with the Canby Rebels in the game.
“We just got to be really focus and when we’re determined on something like winning, it doesn’t really matter. We just got to push through no matter what,’ said White. “Really tight defense, that’s it.”
White’s defense shined again when she sealed the win off a fly-out to her at second base to cap a 6-0 weekend and bringing home the first-place trophy.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald