UNION COUNTY GIRLS IN STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

July 25, 2004 11:00 pm

PORTLAND — The Union County Senior girls swept two games at the state tournament this weekend — one a shutout, the other a dramatic come-from-behind victory — setting themselves up for a shot at the state championship Tuesday.

The girls have made the championship finals thanks to their 8-0 win over Mount Hood Saturday and their 4-2 win over Corvallis-Albany Sunday.

The girls play for the state championship at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Coach Dick Griffin expects that Union County will have to play Corvallis-Albany again for the title.

Corvallis-Albany is a powerhouse which went to regionals last year and just missed out on going to the senior girls World Series. Corvallis-Albany won its first game of the tournament this year 30-1. Before the game Sunday, Griffin said they were going to be a difficult team to beat.

But, the Union County girls weren't intimidated and stuck right with Corvallis-Albany throughout. "We played tough," said Griffin.

The game was a pitchers' duel for five innings, with Union County's Savannah Wilhelm keeping Corvallis-Albany in check.

Still, the girls had managed just one hit after five innings and were behind 2-0 entering the sixth. That's when their bats exploded.

Talia Bunkers got on base with a hit, then came around to score on a couple of errors.

Keri Reynolds got on base with a hit, followed by Mandy Griffin, who got on with an error. Then, Christina McGilvray came up and belted a deep line-drive.

"It didn't have a lot of air under it," said coach Griffin. But, McGilvray's blast had just enough to go over the fence for a three-run home run, giving Union County a 4-2 lead.

Corvallis-Albany didn't go down without a fight, making it interesting in the seventh. However, two stellar plays by the Union County girls saved the day.

Corvallis-Albany got two runners on with no outs in the seventh, but then Katie Griffin turned a double play for two outs.

With a runner still on base, the next Corvallis-Albany batter hit a line drive in the hole between second and third for a possible game-tying hit, but shortstop Kara Mann made a diving catch to snuff out the rally once and for all.

Wilhelm ended the game with five strikeouts.

Against Mount Hood Saturday, Wilhelm pitched four innings of shutout ball, striking out seven, and giving up just one hit and one walk. Mann pitched the final three innings, giving up two hits and striking out four.

Mandy Griffin had two hits, including a triple, while Wilhelm had a double. Carrie Stratton had a double and a single.

— Pierre LaBossire