HOME NOT SO SWEET IN STATE QUARTERFINALS
By C.J. Gish
Observer Staff Writer
ISLAND CITY La Grandes offensive drought finally caught up with it in the OSAA-U.S. Bank 3A State softball quarterfinals Monday.
The Tigers fell 3-1 to the visiting Valley Catholic Valiants here at the LDS Church Field when their bats produced three hits for the second straight playoff game.
We made decent contact, but Ive seen our girls hit a lot better, La Grande coach Nicole Christian said. We didnt help ourselves (on offense).
Christian commended the Tigers for advancing to the state playoffs and beating Philomath 1-0 at home Friday in a second-round game.
To be one of the top eight teams in the state, I think well take that any day, she said.
This just wasnt our best game. Even good teams play bad. We obviously wanted it, it just didnt get done.
Valley Catholic came away with the timely hits when it needed them. The Valiants, holding a 1-0 lead, gained the upper hand for good in the fifth and sixth innings.
In the top of the fifth, Caitlin Krutsinger opened with a leadoff walk and advanced to second off a Cait OBrien bunt. She made it to third off a Mollie Haener bunt and was driven home when Jackie Burns hit a double to center field.
That hit forced La Grande pitcher Megan Caldwell out of the game, giving way to Bre McCoy.
They hit our pitchers. We had one of our best, if not best, pitcher (in Caldwell) and we just didnt have it today, Christian said.
The Valiants put the game away in the top of the sixth when they strung together four straight hits, including Katie Gredvigs one-run single to shallow center field, scoring Shannon Park.
The inning could have been worse, but Valley Catholic courtesy runner Megan Harinski was thrown out at third base on a double by Park. Kelly Morgan was also thrown out trying to score from third base, but catcher Stephanie Kirkeby caught the ball and took a hard hit by Morgan for the second out. Morgan was ejected for the game because of the collision.
La Grande, which posted four extra-inning wins during the regular season, attempted a late rally in the bottom of the seventh.
With one out, McCoy hit a single to center field and advanced to second base on an overthrow to first base. Kandis Wallace followed with a single up the middle, giving the Tigers runners on the corners.
Lauren Sternfeld drove in McCoy, but was thrown out before she made it to first base. With Wallace on third base, Maria Carmichael hit a hard shot to OBrien at second base. OBrien bobbled the ball, but recovered and threw Carmichael out for the final out.
We finally strung something together in the seventh inning, but you cant do that in the state playoffs, Christian said.
Valley Catholic earned its first run in the top of the second inning when Morgan hit a leadoff triple down the left-field line. Katie Gredvig drove Morgan in with a bloop single to right field.
Morgan and Gredvig had two hits apiece to lead Valley Catholic. Burns earned the win from the circle and struck out six batters.
La Grande finished the season at 18-9 and as Greater Oregon League champion in its first year after dropping from the Class 4A into the 3A.
Valley Catholic 010 011 0 3 8 1
La Grande 000 000 1 1 3 1
Burns and Gates; Caldwell, McCoy (5) and Kirkeby. WP Burns. LP Caldwell (9-4).
Valley Catholic hits Morgan 2, Gredvig 2, Murray, Burns, Gates, Park. 2B Burns, Park. 3B Morgan. RBI Burns, Gredvig. SB Morgan, Gredvig.
La Grande hits McCoy, Wallace, Kirkeby. RBI Sternfeld.