By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Any recipe for success in softball requires a few essential ingredients: a line-up that can produce hits in pressure situations, a pitching staff that can handle themselves in the circle and a defense that can put the brakes to an opponent’s runs.
However, there is a fourth element that the McNary High School varsity softball game seemed to be missing during the past couple of weeks after hitting a rough patch that put an end to an undefeated season: fun.
Fortunately, the team seemed to find fun again last week as the Lady Celts capped their season with a pair of wins over Sprague and McKay high schools.
“We seemed to get over the losses and just went out and had fun and relaxed,” said senior Olivia Yarbrough.
McNary started the week with a 15-5 pasting of Sprague on Tuesday, May 8. The game was highlighted by a grand slam off the bat of freshman Kianna Villareal and the first career home run for senior Beth Bello.
“To play Sprague and hit the ball well after some losses, it was nice to bounce back,” said Hailey Decker.
The Celts leapt out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and finished out with an eight-run fourth. Decker notched two doubles and Paige Bouska had a triple in the outing.
“For whatever reason, against that Sprague crew, we can do no wrong,” said Jeff Auvinen, McNary head coach. “We hit the ball, we pitch, we defend and do everything right. It’s the mental part of the game, our confidence level is high.”
The Celts returned to the diamond Thursday, May 10, for a 13-2 win over McKay.
“We struggled with McKay a little bit at first, but came back and got the win an got the job done,” Decker said.
The game was tied 2-2 after the first inning, but McNary scored in every inning except the third and kept the Royal Scots at bay on defense. Bouska had three hits including a triple and Bello scored three runs and hit a triple.
On Monday, McNary took on Central Catholic High School in a scrimmage match and wiped the field with the team in a 15-5 rout. The team will have to wait until Monday, May 21 for its first-round playoff game, but Auvinen hoped to make practices more of a playoff-type atmosphere.
Despite recent struggles he sees no reason why they couldn’t contend for a title.
“They’re 18-4 and there’s no reason they can’t win five games in a row, so [they need to] get it going, have some fun and play it up. It’s a five-game season from here on out,” he said.