By Jeremy McDonald
NEWBERG, Ore.– They finally got over the hump. Third-time is indeed the charm. The NW Vandals have finally won a Tournament Title.
There was no doubt both them and the Eugene Lighting, coming back for a revenge game in hopes to steal two for the NAFA Summer National Tournament Platinum Title Sunday afternoon, were running on fumes from playing since Thursday under the hot conditions at the Darnell Wright Sports Complex. But they went to work.
It was a far cry from the 12-5 offensive battle the two had Saturday evening at the Crater Fields in the Complex, the only run through the first two-and-a-half innings was a Sydney Maurer score off an error. Even as the Vandals pushed their lead to 3-0 into the fourth, both Gracee Wright and the Lighting’s Nicki Derrick were battling sore arms.
Derrick had pitched the game prior to get the Lighting and would go on to throw 116 pitches in the Vandals 8-0 win. Wright, had thrown 282 pitches in six games coming out of Sunday’s win, and the Vandals knew they had to keep her pitch count down knowing the lack of arms they had due to the injuries they had just in case they had to go to a sudden death game.
“We really needed to make sure we had it all together because we had to save her arm just in case we had another game after this one. We wanted to make sure that we got outs for her because she worked so hard,” said Alysha Sims.
Sims and Stayton-teammate Sydney Maurer anchored the NW Vandals middle infield. Maurer at shortstop and Sims at second as the Eagle Duo led the backing defense for Wright, keeping the Amity-grad to under 80 pitches thrown with 74 come games end.
Derrick made sure the Vandals bats were at bay, duplicating the success her and Katelyn Kurtz had the night before in limiting the power bats the NW Vandals have to the 11 hits combined, they had in the two games this weekend against another.
Kaili Saathoff had two of the five hits. Maurer, Gracie DuPre and Madison Goodale, each had the remaining three hits. The trick became, what to do with the opportunities of the five hits and the four walks they drew on this game?
They were patient and eventually took advantage of the five errors and an handful of wild pitches by the Lighting to slow build upon their lead. Eventually run-ruling the Lighting in the fifth inning, taking advantage of three errors, two singles and a wild pitch to put the bed to rest.
Glencoe’s DuPre put the icing on the cake in the fifth with a blooper to center field that drove Grace Fredinburg and Maurer home.
“It was great. We did really well getting what we could on offense. On defense, it was super solid so that really helped,” said DuPre. “We worked so hard together. We struggled at the beginning of the tournament, but to comeback in the bracket and all of our games, it was really nice.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald