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La Grande’s Brandy Blackman turns a double play during the first game against Baker Friday. (Casey Kellas/The Observer)
La Grande clinches second with wins over rival Baker
With one swing of the bat, Denise Comfort assured the La Grande softball team of second place in the Greater Oregon League and a home play-in game.
Comfort hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning of the second game against Baker Friday, helping the Lady Tigers sweep the Bulldogs 9-7, 9-8.
“It feels good,” Comfort said. “I was just trying to get on base.”
Comfort’s hit finished off a wild day between the league rivals. The teams entered the doubleheaderwith identical 5-5 records in the GOL.
“That was a good ballgame,” LHS head coach Kevin Kohr said. “We came from behind both ball games. The girls stayed focused and never lost sight of what we needed to do.”
La Grande jumped in front in the opener, 3-2, before Baker rallied to take a 6-3 lead in the fifth inning. But the Lady Tigers answered with five runs in the bottom of the fifth.
A two-run double by Auslin McDaniel and a two-run single by Avery Albrecht capped the scoring. Emily Lawrence, who replaced starter Kali Avila, was able to pick up a two-inning save.
Avila went five innings, striking out three and allowing six runs.
Olivia Trotter finished 3-for-3 at the plate, while Albrecht and McDaniel went 2-for-4. Madison Elliott, Elyse Humphrys and Kori Clipfell each had one hit.
That set up a back-and-forth second game. After
The Lady Tigers cut the score to 7-6 with a run in the bottom of the fourth, before RBIs by Clipfell and Kendall Kirkland put LHS in front 8-7 in the fifth.
But Baker tied the game on an RBI single by Kayla Davis in the sixth inning.
The game went scoreless from there until Comfort’s walk-off in the bottom of the eighth. Kirkland reached base on a dropped fly ball in center field. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on the Comfort single.
“I knew she could (score),” Comfort said. “We just stayed focused. We played as a team.”
Lawrence picked up the victory after Kohr used three pitchers throughout the game. Comfort finished 2-for-5, while Albrecht and Kirkland both went 2-for-4.
“It was great team softball,” Kohr said. “The energy level was good — it didn’t matter if they were in the field or off the field — it was team softball. We executed. That’s what’s good.”
The second-place finish in the GOL locked up a home play-in game for the Lady Tigers. La Grande will wait to see who it plays and when that game will be.
But there’s no doubt the sweep over Baker boosted the Lady Tigers’ mojo.
“It gives them momentum. It gives them confidence,” Kohr said. “It gives the hitters some confidence. The pitchers know they can trust their defense behind them. We know we can play with anyone. When we show up, we’re an exciting ball team to watch.”
La Grande (11-9) split with Echo/Stanfield on Saturday in non-league play. The Lady Tigers lost the opener, 5-4, but bounced back with a 9-2 victory.