Union/Cove’s Carsyn Roberts beats a throw to second base during Thursday’s game with Echo/Stanfield. The ball dropped out of the glove of Alison Neasham, to allow Roberts to slide in safely. Brad Mosher/The Observer
by Brad Mosher/The Observer
UNION — The top-ranked 2A softball team in the state made quick work Thursday of visiting Echo/Stanfield.
Union/Cove scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning on its way to an easy 14-0 non-league win at the Union Spring Bash.
The victory improved Union/Cove to 7-1 for the season and set up a battle with fifth-ranked Heppner today.
The Mustangs, defending 2A state champions, will bring a perfect 4-0 record to Union, following victories over Grant Union (20-0), Nyssa (10-0), Gaston (10-3) and Colton. The Mustangs won a 9-2 decision earlier in the Union-hosted contest.
The Union-Heppner matchup will be the second game of the day for the Cats, with Union/Cove hosting Colton in a 10 a.m. contest. The 3A Lady Vikings will be entering the morning contest with a 5-3 record.
Against Echo/Stanfield, freshman Jadon Wright got a free pass to first with a walk and she never stopped rounding the bases as the first five batters scored. Carsyn Roberts singled, followed by Keesha Sarman getting a walk, then Dani Sturm doubled. Amber Fiorito and Kindra Moore both singled and stole second.
Moore made it all the way to third before the inning ended.
Wright, Roberts and Sturm combined to shut out the visiting Cougars over five innings.
However, that was something that Echo couldn’t do when Union was at the plate.
In the second inning, the Cats kept up the pressure, with Sturm hammering a two-run homer that scored Roberts, giving the hosts a quick 7-0 lead.
Union didn’t stop there. Fiorito doubled and later scored. Moore was hit by a pitch and was also moved around the bases. Kaci Langford and Kelsey Walenta would also work their way around the diamond.
It took a line drive straight at the Echo leftfielder by Sturm to finally end the parade of Union players loading up the bases and moving their way around to score — and an 11-0 lead after two innings.
In the third inning, the Cats added three more runs to take a 14-0 lead. After Fiorito was out at the plate with the bases loaded, Wright hit a grounder to score Langford. Roberts hits a ball past third to score Hannah Hulse.
Sarman hit another shot past third base to score Chelsie Houck.
The scoring stopped when Roberts was called for the third out for leaving second base too early.
With Union coach Paul Phillips making sure to use his bench, Echo finally put the hosts down in order in the bottom of the fourth.
“There is no need to make it ugly,” he said. Sturm closed out the game on the mound.
Heppner tough test
According to Phillips, the Mustangs will be a tough test for Union.
“We are definitely one of the top three teams in the state, but Heppner is the real deal. It will be a good test for us to see where we are at right now.”
One advantage Phillips has is the size of his squad — with 21 players. That gives players a chance to get alot of playing experience on the junior varsity squad, he said. “The nice thing is that we don’t rebuild. We reload. We have seven seniors on this team, but with the luxury of having a strong JV program, they come in next year ready to play.”
After closing the Spring Bash out tonight with Heppner, Union will have more than a week to prepare for Grant Union playing a league-opening doubleheader April 12. The Prospectors are struggling through a five-game losing streak.