By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary thought it was the better team last time.
This time the Lady Celts proved it, throttling McMinnville 14-4 in five innings on Tuesday, May 9.
The Grizzlies were undefeated in Greater Valley Conference play and hadn’t allowed more than six runs in a game all season. McNary got that in the first inning.
“I think the girls were a little fired up because we felt like we got up on these guys 3-0 last time and kind of let off a little bit and squandered it,” McNary head coach Kevin Wise said. “They’re a great team so to be a team like this the way we did, it’s a great thing this time of year. We’re heading into playoffs with good momentum.”
Nadia Witt reached on an error to start the bottom of the first and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Alexa Cepeda. Haley Ebner then drove Witt home with a line drive single to right field.
After Hannah Carr drew a walk, Emma Kinler then singled to left field to bring home Ebner and give the Lady Celts a quick 2-0 lead.
McMinnville decided to make a pitching change, bringing Ashley Rhoads in for starter Payton Hudson.
The decision did not pay off, at least not for the Grizzlies.
With two outs, McNary freshman Haley Bingenheimer busted the game open, hitting an outside pitch over the left field fence to put the Lady Celts ahead 5-0.
“When I was running home I had to keep my head down because I was smiling so much,” Bingenheimer said. “We really wanted to beat these guys. The last game, we shouldn’t have lost that one.”
Just two pitches later, Faith Danner continued the big inning, hitting a solo home run to center field.
McMinnville began to slowly chip away at McNary’s lead in the top of the second, scoring two runs on a home run and double.
But with Hudson back in the circle, the Lady Celts added three more runs in the bottom of the second.
The Grizzlies threw four different pitchers at McNary and made substitutions every inning in the infield and outfield but none of it mattered as the Celts continued to knock around McMinnville.
“We took the information that we had from the first game and we figured out if we can just poke the ball and just get good base hits, we’ll be fine,” Wise said. “Yesterday we worked on zero defense and we spent two hours hitting and it showed today. We had a plan and they stuck with it and executed it perfectly.”
McNary loaded the bases in the second. After Cepeda scored on a wild pitch, Kinler hit a sacrifice fly to right field to drive in Ebner. Carr then came home on a pop fly single by Duran.
The Lady Celts scored four more runs in the third. Witt drove in Danner and Sabella Alfaro with a single to left field.
After another pitching change, Carr hit a two-out single to score Witt. Duran then added another single to bring home Carr.
Alfaro scored McNary’s final run of the game in the fourth on a ground ball by Ebner.
Danner, who pitched all five innings, allowed just one hit in the top of the fifth before finishing off the Grizzlies to earn the win.
The Lady Celts improved to 17-4 overall and 12-2 in the GVC. Their final league game is Friday, May 12 at home against Sprague.
The state tournament begins Monday, May 22.