By Jeremy McDonald
PORTLAND, Ore.– There was a feeling perhaps that one of these games would happen in their first softball tournaments of the season.
Yes the NW Vandals 16A squad defeated the 18A Havoc Fastpitch squad 18-10 for the Portland Classic Gold Bracket Championship Game the very next game, but their 10-9 victory over the Rampage Rise 14A squad leading into that victory was one of those games that just crept up on them during their first outing as a squad this summer.
“We gave up a couple of runs and had a lot of errors so we had to mentally figure out, ‘hey, we got a game going on. It’s time to get it going’,” said Abbi Covalt. “We turned it on at the end, Alli (Parker) came in and threw really well and all of our pitchers worked really hard.”
The Rise jumped out to a 5-0 lead against the Vandals entering the bottom half of the third inning, but the NW Vandals quickly tied the game at five with a five-run third inning with both teams trading the lead or a share of the next four inning entering the bottom half of the seventh inning.
Kaili Saalhoff, Camryn Boyles and Maison Searle all had three RBIs each in the game. Parker, who along with Mackenzie Scott were brought up from the NW Vandals 14A team, pitched the last three innings and struck out four batters to keep the Rampage Rise from duplicating their early game success offensively.
“She did phenomenal,” said Reagan Davis of Parker’s performance down the stretch. “She threw strikes and did everything she could do to help us win.”
The NW Vandals led through the 80-minute time limit, but with the ‘And-one’ inning rule with the tournament had gave the Rise a chance to tie as their defense held to force the International Tiebreaker with the game knotted up at seven.
Both teams traded a crooked number two in the sixth to push the game to the seventh inning where Parker and her defense hung an important ‘zero’ to give their offense a chance to advance in the bracket.
Bella Fleener was advanced to third on a Sydney Conklin sacrifice bunt, but was tagged out at home during Boyles at-bat. But it did advance Scott to third, Scott got on after being hit by a pitch and worked her way to third with a walk to Covalt the at-bat following hers.
Davis came to the plate following the tag out and brought Scott home for the win off a single to left field in a game that presented a good challenge for them for their first few games this summer.
“It was good, we haven’t been super challenged the whole tournament so it was nice to see how we would react to the pressure of a good game and a good team,” said Davis of the game. “It was kind of relieving; I could just trust them.”
The Vandals opened the Championship game against the Havoc with an eight-run first inning to set the pace early, scoring in every inning of the contest behind Scot’s 5-for-5 four RBI day. Kamden Combs (three) and Parker (six) combined for nine strikeouts in six innings of combined work Sunday afternoon at Delta Park.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald