By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– Confidence was soaring for Ali Martinez following her Grand Slam home run in the first inning of McNary’s 13-3 win over Grants Pass Monday to open the 6A State Playoffs at McNary High School.
It took the sophomore some time to find her groove this year, it wasn’t until the Celtics 7-0 win over West Salem on May 17 that Martinez had hit her first home run of the season. So the four-run shot just boosted the underclassmen’s confidence even further as McNary advances to the Round of 16 on Wednesday.
“West Salem was my first home run (of the year) and this one was like, ‘alright. I got this’ and ‘I can help my team’. It’s my first Grand Slam, so this was big especially with playoffs, my first game, my first at-bat, two outs and bases loaded. It was perfect,” Martinez said.
Five of the Celts seven first inning runs came with two outs as Kaylee Schwab singled to bring Heather Ebner home two at-bats prior to Martinez’ home run. The Cavemen went to the bullpen shortly after, replacing Sarah Martin with Scarlett Gordon with momentum in favor of McNary going into the second inning.
Gordon though had slowed down the Celtic bats with the difference in pitching styles from Martin. Holding the hot-starting McNary offense to one run in each of the second and third innings as her Grants Pass offense chipped away at the lead. Scoring twice in the top half of the third inning to turn the then 8-0 deficit to 8-2 going into the Celts getting one back in the bottom half of the inning.
But soon enough, the dam broke again for the McNary offense. Following a refocused fourth inning defensively, the Celtic bats roared alive again with four runs to push their lead to 13-2. And though they surrendered one run in the fifth, a Regan Bruner single, McNary held them to that one hit to advance to play host to North Medford on Wednesday.
“We jumped on it. We got on it quickly, but it was a little bit hard. We just need to bring our energy and carry this game over to that one,” Asypnn Westby said. “We lost to (Grants Pass) the first time so we wanted to come out strong with this being our first game (of playoffs). We were better than we were in that second game of the season.”
The two met on March 15 with the Cavemen winning the game 5-4 down in Roseburg.
Westby, Lacey Vasas, the Ebner Sisters of Hannah and Heather all each had two hits apiece. Martinez led the team with 4RBI’s and Heather Ebner contributed 2RBI’s with six McNary batters recorded an RBI in the playoff opener.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald