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Elgin/Imblerís Rikki Griffin pitched in relief Tuesday against Grant Union, striking out one, allowing one run and three hits. (Brad Mosher/The Observer)
ELGIN — The Ravens had a perfect record against Grant Union.
That perfection ended Wednesday when the Lady Prospectors defeated Elgin/Imbler for the first time this season, 7-4, in the first round of the district playoffs.
The win set up a showdown between Enterprise/Joseph and Grant Union today at noon on the Union softball field. The winner plays Union/Cove at 2 p.m. for the district title.
According to Elgin/Imbler softball coach Dick Griffin, the Ravens had too many hits straight at people.
Even the final out was a line drive straight at the pitcher that ended any hopes for a dramatic seventh-inning rally.
Instead, it will be the Special District 6’s newest team, Grant Union, making the trip to the district semifinal.
According to Griffin, the Ravens also left too many players on base (12).
But even more so, the coach said it was just one too many times the Ravens played the former 3A squad this year. “We were 3-0 against them. It is hard to stay perfect when both teams are that close in talent,” he said. “All it takes is one bad day and the season is over.”
The Ravens had swept the girls from Grant Union in three previous games by a combined 34-13 score. The closest Grant Union had come to victory was an 8-4 loss at Elgin
But the Prospectors tried from the start to rewrite their history in Elgin Wednesday.
The Prospectors jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, only to have the hosts come back to tie the score with two runs in the bottom of the second.
Senior Danika McIntosh started the second inning with a double and stole third. After Darcie Kanoho singled, it was Brea Harris’ hit that scored both runs.
In the top of the third inning, McIntosh got into trouble early when Grant Union’s first three batters got a walk, a single and an error to load the bases with no outs.
But the Prospectors left them stranded after the next batter hit into a force at second, one of the base runners was picked off at third by the catcher and a fly to center was the third out.
After holding the Raven batters in check in the bottom of the third inning, the Prospectors started a rally by hitting back to the pitcher for the first out.
Grant Union’s Hailey McConnell singled and stole second. She stayed there while Kennedy Nash hit to the second baseman and was thrown out at first.
Rayne Houser hit a two-single into left field to score McConnell.
That was just the beginning of a four-run fourth inning that left the Ravens in a 6-2 hole.
The next batter, Morgan Immoos, hit a line drive to the shortstop that fell out of the glove and she was safe at first. When Immoos stole second, her teammate, Houser, ran in from third for another run.
Babe Nash pounded a line drive for a double that scored Immoos.
Stephanie Croghan hit a single to score Nash for the 6-2 lead.
Elgin/Imbler struggled to get a rally started in the bottom of the fourth inning.
McIntosh hit a ball to deep center, but it was caught on the run.
Miah Slater followed with a single and moved to second on Kanoho’s grounder.
After Harris’ single moved Slater to third, Slater later scored to cut the Prospectors’ lead to 6-3.
The threat ended when Rikki Griffin flied out to third.
She moved to the mound to start off the fifth inning, replacing McIntosh, who had given up six runs on nine hits with one strikeout. She also walked three.
After a walk, Rikki Griffin watched her infielders get two quick outs on a double play.
Grant Union’s McConnell singled and stole second, but Griffin ended the threat with her first strike out of the day.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Ravens loaded the bases with two outs, but Harris hit a grounder and was thrown out at first.
The Prospectors added their final run in the top of the seventh inning, making the score 7-3.
After two quick outs, Nash hit a fly to center that was dropped. Croghan’s single sent Nash across the plate.
Late rally falls short
In their final chance at the plate, the Ravens started a rally with a walk, and after a wild pitch sent Slater to second, the Grant Union coach decided to switch pitchers.
Sidney Stearns left the mound after giving up three hits, four walks and hit one batter in two innings.
Her replacement was the starting pitcher, Croghan, who went the first four innings, giving up seven hits and three runs.
Another walk and Elgin/Imbler had two base runners with no outs. Harris hit into a force at third for the first out.
Katie Barry picked up an RBI when she hit a grounder to second, but was thrown out at first.
Kanoho scored, making it a 7-4 game.
But with two outs and two on base, Rikki Griffin slammed a hit straight at the Grant Union pitcher, ending the threat, the game and the season for the Ravens.
After the game, the coach met with a somber group of players in the outfield for almost 20 minutes.
On the mound, Rikki Griffin allowed just one run, one strike out, one walk and three hits.
The Prospectors pounded out 13 hits off the Ravens’ pitchers and left 10 runners on base.
The Ravens ended their season with a 7-10 record, while Grant Union hopes to improve its 7-15 mark today in Union.
The Prospectors (5-7) had finished one game behind the third-place Ravens (6-6) in the Special District 6 standings.
That put Grant Union in the district playoff against Elgin/Imbler, while second-place Enterprise/Joseph (7-5) was slated to play Wallowa in Wednesday’s other playoff game.
However, the game was canceled.
Neither Pine Eagle nor Adrian fielded a softball team for district play this year.