By Jeremy McDonald
JEFFERSON, Ore.– For the first time since the 2005 playoffs, the Jefferson High School Softball team are heading to the postseason. It followed a regular season that saw the Lions, who won two games last Spring, finished second in the 2A/1A Special District 2 with a 15-2 league record and 17-4 overall record. Their best season since their 15-8 overall record during the 2015-2016 season.
But it’s been longer than that since they’ve won a playoff game. Something they hope to change when they travel to Toledo on Wednesday.
It was those 1996 playoffs, when they were 3A in the old 1A-4A model, where they hosted Elmira and Central and picked up their last playoff victories. They defeated the now 3A Falcons 8-1 and the now 5A Panthers 4-2 before falling to eventual 3A Champions in St. Helens 2-0 in the State Semi-Finals in Jefferson.
“It’s really amazing. I’m really proud of our team, we really dig our way into this. We’ve had about the same girls all four years of my High School career and we really proved ourselves this year and came back and fought for everything we’re getting. I’m really proud of all of us,” Lily Alford said of the season.
Alford hit her third home run of the season in the third inning of Thursday’s 11-4 victory over a scrapy Culver team. The two-run shot was part of a six-run third inning that put Jefferson ahead of the Bulldogs 9-2 after Culver cut a 3-0 lead down to 3-2 entering the bottom half of the inning. The home run, which drove in Kim Peterson, came on the heels Peterson’s 3RBI double the at-bat before.
Consistency will be a key component for success for the Lions as they enter the Field of 22 this upcoming week when they host on Wednesday. They expanded their lead to 11-2 going into the seventh inning, but allowed the door to open a bit for Culver to build some momentum. In the postseason, something like that could turn an nine-run lead into a whole new ballgame if they don’t nip it in the bud sooner rather than later.
“It’s going to be really big. This was a really good game, we also played really scrappy too and I think this was a good game to get our last league game in,” Peterson said.
“I do think we need to be consistent, especially towards the end (of the game). We do have a little bit of a problem finishing towards the end when we get a little confident and let some things slide. But if we stick to being consistent and lockdown throughout all of good luck out there,” adds Alford.
Peterson drove in 4RBI’s and Alford drove in 2RBI’s for the Lions. Nayeli Hart struck out 11 in seven innings. Hensley Watcher struck out eight while going 2-for-4 hitting.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald