By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Central’s Emily Cole has continued to prove herself as a work-horse in the circle once more as the Oregon Blaze United 18U squad wrapped up pool play at the Jag Labor Day Classic at Wallace Marine Park in West Salem.
When she entered the game against a hard-hitting NW Vandals 16U squad Sunday afternoon, the Panther Senior in Cole had collected 18 strikeouts as the Blaze split their first two games.
“My team helped me out, they backed me up so that’s really good. I hope we win the first game tomorrow, make easy plays and work as a team,” said Cole of her performance.
The Vandals, coming off an eye-opening defeat to the Oregon Red Heat 16 Gold, took advantage of the pitching they saw from Jessica Stewert and the Blaze United hiccups to take an 11-0 lead into when Cole took over in the circle.
McNary’s Lacey Vasas, who hit a first inning home run, came out firing in the circle with her defense backing her up behind her. The Celtic sophomore had a no-hitter going into the fourth before Athena Vandyke broke it up in the fourth, Vandyke’s hit was the lone hit recorded by the Blaze in the game.
“I was frustrated about the first game because we did so bad, we could’ve won that game (against the Red Heat). I knew the team was counting on me and I had to do this for them,” said Vasas. “We were mostly tired that first game, but after that we were ready. We were frustrated but we were ready to play.”
Vasas struck out six in four innings of work, keeping the Blaze United at bay in their 11-0 victory Sunday afternoon.
Cole had two shutout innings before fatigue sank in for the pitcher in the fifth up against the time limit. Four runs came in against her, but with the inning not being completed before the time limit the runs were taken off the final score as the Blaze United plays the 9am game in the 16/18 Silver Bracket opener against the NW Toros at Wallace Monday.
“I think I did pretty well, at the end there I was a little tired. We had a few errors that hurt us,” starts Cole. “Communicate better, make the easy plays and not make it so hard on us when those easy plays happen.”
For the Vandals, they join the two Vandal 18U’s in the 16/18 Gold Bracket Monday morning as they look to possibly meeting one of their older counterparts later on in the tournament.
“We like to win so we’ll push as hard as we can and give it all we got,” said Vasas, who was 1-for-2 with an RBI in the game hitting.
Payton Burnham drove in a game-high 5RBI’s for the Vandals and Maddix Bowdie drove in another two runs in the victory.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald