South Salem Softball Outduels McMinnville 1-0

By Jeremy McDonald

MCMINNVILLE, Ore.–  South Salem’s Hallie Olson had been a vocal part of the Saxons defense all game Saturday afternoon against McMinnville at McMinnville High School.

It was a rare late-season battle that pinned the fourth-ranked Grizzlies with the eighth-ranked Saxons, both ranked in the Top 10 in the OSAA Rankings, in what would be a 1-0 South Salem win on this day and Olson had been the consistent vocal presence from first base.  Especially in the last batter of the game where Olson took a couple of steps in towards Saxon pitcher Rowan Thompson trying to get the junior to calm down enough so they could get the final out of the game on top of helping a team that has a few new players getting used to those pressure cooker situations.

“Rowan and I have always been playing together, so I just know how to say ‘stay relaxed.  We got your back…you know what to do,” starts Olson on her being vocal. “We got a couple of girls who aren’t as experienced, so it’s really important for me to help them so they know what to do.  One, it eases my stress because if I talk I can relax a little more and then they know what to do.  It’s so much better for when the ball is hit to them, they know exactly what to do.”

Staying moving was one of the vocal points that Olson pointed towards as Thompson struck out McMinnville’s Peyton Justice to close out the game.  One of 17 strikeouts that the junior had in the win.  A win that saw six total hits, four by the Saxons and two by the Grizzlies and all by six different batters, as Thompson and Mac’s Mackenzie Roberts led their defenses in a playoff-caliber performance with the playoffs coming down the road pretty quickly.  

Showing each team the level that they’re able to perform at and seeing that kind of like-competition with South Salem playing McNary and McMinnville preparing for Glencoe and Sherwood before the regular season ends.  Top teams in their respective conferences.

McMinnville’s and South Salem’s defenses combined to allow six total hits in the Saxons 1-0 win Saturday afternoon in McMinnville (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

And after a slow start, the Grizzlies adjusted defensively.  They had moments against the Saxons, like in the the fourth inning where they loaded up the bases on their traveling opposition looking for a run before Thompson and her defense shut down the threat.  It was one of maybe two major threats that either team really had in the game Saturday afternoon outside of the one South had way back in the second inning that resulted in Peyton Bradley scoring off an error that was the difference in this one.

“We made some good adjustments for the rest of the game.  We could do what we could with our bats, we should’ve adjusted to velocity more.  We tried to make adjustments, but South’s a good team.  Rowan is a very good pitcher and we’re going to tip our hats to them,” said Abby Carsley.  “It was good to see velocity today because come playoffs, I know we’re going to see much better pitching.  So it was good for us, we know what we need to work on and we know what we could do better.  I think this was a really good game for us come playoffs.”

For the Saxons, they knew they really had to rise to the occasion defensively with the firepower that McMinnville had brought to the table with ten of their 21 games played having ten runs coming across the board.  Something, as mentioned before with the two hits they allowed (Carsley and Margo McMannus each having a hit), that can be credited towards the connection that they have as a team.

“We stayed calm, we had trust in Rowan and we have a lot of trust in each other.  That’s what we’ve been working on is having a good connection and making sure we’re talking, staying relaxed.  When you’re tense and scared that’s when errors come around,” said Olson.  “We stayed really relaxed and that was a really big, important thing we had to do.”

Olson, Bradley, Thompson and Mackenzie Scott all each had a hit for the Saxons.  Roberts picked up three strikeouts pitching in the game for McMinnville.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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