By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Willamina rose to the occasion against their 4A opposition in Stayton Wednesday afternoon in the Eagles 8-3 victory to close out the regular season.
The 2A/1A Special District 1 League Champion and the fourth-ranked team in the classification found themselves in a game down 1-0 to the third-ranked team in 4A and Oregon West Conference Champions through two-and-a-half innings. And despite allowing a five-run inning in the bottom half of the third due to a few bounces that went against them, the Bulldogs took advantage of their against the Eagles to get back into the game to make it a 6-3 game going into the bottom half of the fifth inning.
“I felt like we did pretty good being a 2A going up against a 4A. It showed us a better pitcher and one of the better pitchers we went up against…you can tell the energy with both teams and stuff. I say it was pretty high,” Willamina’s Bre Buswell said.
Buswell and Pasley DeLoe each had two hits for the Bulldogs against Jessica Rule and the Eagles defense in one of those playoff-caliber games that both teams looked to benefit from going into their respective brackets next week. A good tune-up game as Willamina has made it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014 and the Eagles are looking to make another deep run at the 4A Title.
For the hometown Stayton squad, that five-run third inning helped swing momentum into their favor to help brunt any possible Willamina run that eventual came soon after with the Eagles holding the Bulldogs to those three fifth inning runs and getting two of those back in the bottom of the sixth. Rebuilding some cushion as they finished off the regular season with a 23-3 record and entering the postseason on a 16-game winning streak.
“It was really important. Props to them because that was really good for them to come back from 6-0, but I really enjoyed it because my team picked me up and it eased the pressure on me pitching so I won’t have to be stressed the whole entire time,” Rule said of their third inning push. “Seeing this game shows us our true potential and that’s really important. We need to work on keeping our momentum up through adversity because I think we hang our heads a little bit when we mess up individually. I think that’s going to help us battle that adversity and I think it showed what we need to work on.”
Rule finished the game with 14 strikeouts while picking up three hits and 2RBI’s. Brooke Morley drove in 2RBI’s for Stayton. Bayleigh Leno was the other Bulldog who collected a hit while Laney DeLoe struck out four pitching.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald