By Jeremy McDonald
EUGENE, Ore.– Dayton continues to find ways to get it done and get to the big game that 36 other teams wish they were at this time of the year.
2019 marked their fifth consecutive trip to the 3A State Championship game, and though it wasn’t their Championship-rival Rainier Clatskanie presented a Columbian-like challenge nonetheless to the Pirates.
Entering the fifth inning, Dayton had found themselves down 3-1 to the Tigers who entered the game 26-0. But as soon as Clatskanie thought they had the perfect season in hand behind Shelby Blodgett and their defense, the Pirates caught some wind on their sails and quickly loaded up the bases on Blodgett.
“This team continues to impress me every, single game. We always comeback, and even though we lost today, I couldn’t be more proud of my team,” said Emily Elliott. “Not a lot of teams get to do that and that’s something to be proud of.
“Like Umby (Head Coach Rob Umbenhower) said before the game, there’s 36 other teams that were wishing that they were in our shoes right now. It’s so amazing to be on such a successful team program that we continue to comeback every single year.”
Elliott walked up to the plate and ripped an infield single to get the Pirates to within one of Clatskaine. Sofia Cicerone tied the game on the next at-bat and Maddie Fluke gave Dayton a two-run lead with a two-run single up 5-3.
Little hiccups here in there with base-path running or errors did hurt the Pirates, four errors in the bottom half of the fifth inning aided Clatskaine’s four-run rally in the bottom half of the fifth to retake a two-run lead into the sixth. The 7-5 lead was pushed to 10-5 into the seventh inning as Dayton mustered one baserunner over the last two innings of the game.
“It felt really good to get back out there and get back ontop of them…but I think we got ourselves a little too hyped up instead of trying to keep it flat a little bit more,” said Cicerone of the last three innings of the game. “But we played good and I’m proud of everybody. I’m really proud of Maddie (Fluke).”
Fluke and Cicerone will return in 2020 along with Jori Hill and Jodi deSmet to name a few returnee’s from this season’s squad. Certainly the little things from Friday’s game will ring true for those returners as they return with a chip on their shoulders knowing what could have been this season.
“We need to cut down on the small errors. So like making simple plays, a simple groundout throwing it to first base. Putting the bat on the ball when we need to and not allowing our heads get to ourselves,” said Cicerone. “We play a real big mental game and sometimes I think it gets in the way. We don’t struggle with the big outs, we struggle with the small outs.”
Fluke and Cicerone each drove in two RBIs each in the State Championship Game. Fluke struck out two as well. Elliott, Fluke and Cicerone all contributed two hits each for the Pirates as they finished second in the State.
“I was excited, not a lot of girls get to know when their last game of the season will be. Me, Cate (Jacks) and the rest of the Seniors got to make the most of it today,” said Elliott. “We knew it was our last game and we knew we had to show up for our last game, that’s something amazing to know when you get to play your last softball game of your High School career.
Dayton finished the season 19-6 overall and 7-1 in the PacWest Conference.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald