By Jeremy McDonald
EUGENE, Ore.– Cascade did not back down from Marist in the 4A State Championship Game.
Matter of fact, they challenged Malia Williams. Answering whatever the Spartans got against their defense with answers of their own.
Passion and fire. They had ‘P4H’ on their arms. Play for Hannah Ganfield. Ganfield was diagnosed with Gullain-Barré Syndrome and has been helped a lot with the program leading into the magical run that the Cougars had this season.
“It means so much for us to win this game for her. She means so much to us and she means so much to (Athletic Director Tim) Ganfield and she means so much to the organization in general. Winning it for her, it warms your whole entire body. It’s a feeling that you can’t get out of you,” Kailee Bode said.
“It was a dream of hers to see us win it. I know it’s one of those things that is like ‘ok, we got something even more to fight for’. We want to win it for ourselves and now we have someone we want to win it for and want it even better than our best,” adds McKenna Gramzow.
But they knew that they had to go through the juggernaut that is Williams in the circle. Hannah Walliman and her defense took that first game of the season intensity, combined it with the intensity of the State Championship Game and combined it with the fire and passion of wanting to win it for Ganfield and for themselves.
It could’ve gone haywired, but having people like Abby Jeppsen on the field to settle themselves down helped calm the nerves of the game Tuesday afternoon at Jane Sanders Stadium.
“All of our nerves were going because it is the State Championship Game and look at where we’re at. The biggest thing for us was we knew what we were coming out to do and we knew what to do to get the job done. So the positive reinforcement, staying calm was the difference really in that game,” Jeppsen said. “We stayed calm and made the outs when we could.”
Marist scored in the fourth, only to see the Cougars answer the next half inning to tie it at one. The Spartans responded to take the lead off a crazy error play at home in the fifth.
Interestingly, that was the last time Marist would lead in the game as Cascade tied the game up at two in the sixth and eventually took the lead in the seventh inning thanks to a Crystal Campbell sac-fly in the sixth that scored Bode. Bode ironically was the vocal point in the sixth with a single, two steals before being driven in and Bode gave the Cougs the go-ahead single hit in the seventh inning to help their defense.
“We didn’t want to give up because we worked so hard for it last year and this year. We were so close to it last year, we just really, really wanted it more this year than we did last year and were like ‘we got to do it this year’,” Bode said.
The senior-heavy Cascade squad, with nine seniors in total, camped down defensively in the seventh, turning the three-up and three-down inning to clinch their first State Championship since 2011. Tears were there. emotions were high as they celebrated and handed Marist their first defeat to a 4A team this year in the State Championship Game.
“It was a cry moment because we’re all leaving together and that this was our last shot together,” Gramzow said.
“A lot of us have been together since we’ve been really little. Working together and coming up together and finishing on this note…there’s not even words to describe it,it’s incredible,” adds Jeppsen.
Bode and Emma Hilifiker each collected two hits. Walliman struck out six to the 12 that Williams had for Marist. Williams and Myla Mahoney each had two hits for the Spartans in the 3-2 game.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald