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La Grande Observer Daily Paper 08/18/14

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HIT THIS: Des McCoy pitches against Vale Thursday.  (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).
HIT THIS: Des McCoy pitches against Vale Thursday. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

ISLAND CITY — La Grande's two softball wins Thursday over Vale, coupled with Baker's sweep at Ontario, have put the Tigers into the state playoffs.

La Grande (15-9) boosted its winning streak to eight in a row with 1-0 and 7-2 victories over the Vikings and guaranteed it a top-three finish in the Greater Oregon League.

At 14-4 with a doubleheader Saturday at Ontario remaining, La Grande still has a shot at catching league-leading Riverside (13-3) and keeping ahead of Baker (11-5).

"It's going to come down to the very end this weekend," La Grande coach Nicole Christian said. Riverside plays Saturday at Baker.

The Tigers kept their win streak alive by getting the first game's lone run with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. Lauren Sternfeld led off with a single, and a double by Megan Caldwell moved pinch runner Des McCoy to third base.

After an out and a walk, a wild pitch to Heather Hampton allowed McCoy to score.

Caldwell got her eighth win of the season by holding Vale to two hits. She struck out nine and walked none.

The Vikings threatened with runners on second and third in the first inning but got no closer than that.

La Grande had runners on third in the fifth and sixth but also came away empty-handed.

With senior appreciation day, Christian thought her team didn't have its mind entirely on the game to start.

"We had a lot going on today," she said. "It happened last year. It took us a slow start to get going that first game. We had some baserunning errors and then I made a couple of bad decisions."

Wild pitches and passed balls allowed La Grande to score three runs in the second game, and an error got another run across.

Chelsea Long's two-run double highlighted a five-run second inning. Erin Henjum drove in another run in the fifth.

Caldwell improved to 9-6 after relieving McCoy in the second inning. McCoy gave up both of Vale's runs in the first two frames.

Vale 000 000 0 — 0 2 1

La Grande 000 000 1 — 1 4 1

Nalivka and Pugh; Caldwell and Henderson. WP — Caldwell (8-6). LP — Nalivka.

La Grande hits — Henjum, Tams, Sternfeld, Caldwell. 2B — Caldwell.

Vale 110 000 0 — 2 4 5

La Grande 050 020 x — 7 7 3

Nalivka, Chamberlin (2) and Wilcox; McCoy, Caldwell (2) and Henderson. WP — Caldwell (9-6). LP — Nalivka.

La Grande hits — Henderson, Long, Sternfeld 2, Henjum, Hampton, Lanman. 2B — Long. RBI — Long 2, Henjum.

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