Lady Cats crowned

By Observer staff June 03, 2013 10:37 am

Union/Cove coach Paul Phillips, right, holds the state championship trophy with outfielder Kindra Moore. (Brad Mosher/The Observer)
Union/Cove coach Paul Phillips, right, holds the state championship trophy with outfielder Kindra Moore. (Brad Mosher/The Observer)

Union/Cove claims 2A/1A softball title with 3-0 victory over Yoncalla in Corvallis 

CORVALLIS — Mission accomplished.

That’s how Union/Cove head coach Paul Phillips described the Lady Cats’ 3-0 victory over Yoncalla Friday in the 2A/1A softball state title game at the Oregon State University Softball Complex.

“It was a great year for us,” Phillips said. “We made it. We knew we had the talent to win it. It was my job not to screw it up. This was our goal from the start.”

This is the second state championship for Union/Cove, the last coming in 2008.

The Lady Cats (26-3) rode senior pitcher Dani Sturm, who pitched a complete-game three-hitter with seven strikeouts.

Union/Cove took advantage of two Yoncalla errors to score one run in the first inning. Senior Kaci Langford came through with a two-run single in the fourth to make it 3-0.

That was plenty of cushion for Sturm, who was coming off a one-hit performance in the semifinals. She was also named the player of the game Friday.

The Eagles (25-5) threatened in the third inning, loading the bases with one out. But Sturm was able to work out of it unscathed. Yoncalla got runners on again in the fifth only to come up empty.

“It was really tense, especially when they had loaded the bases,” Sturm told reporters after the game. “I just relaxed and believed in my

Phillips said that when Sturm got out of the bases-loaded jam, that gave the Lady Cats the momentum they needed.

“Once we cleared that hurdle, we came close to opening the game up,” Phillips said. “Dani came up clutch for us.”

Union/Cove finished with eight hits to Yoncalla’s three. Langford went 1-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs, while Sturm went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Carsyn Roberts, Keesha Sarman, Kindra Moore, Hailey Hulse and Kelsey Walenta all had one hit for the Lady Cats.

“I thought coming in we had the better defensive team,” Phillips said. “We had two errors, they had four. I felt we had the better pitching, and I thought we had the better bats. We proved we were the better team.”

Brianne Joslyn took the loss for the Eagles, pitching six innings and striking out three.

Phillips said his team knew what they had to do coming into the game.

“It was quiet confidence,” Phillips said. “We knew last year after we lost to Heppner that that could have been us. There were some points this season where we played really good ball.”

Union/Cove was 16-1 when they got swept by Enterprise/Joseph on May 3. But after that, the Lady Cats finished the season on a 10-game
winning streak.

“After the Enterprise game we knew we had to do a better job of focusing up,” Phillips said. “That was a turning point for us.”

Turning point may be an understatement.

The Lady Cats outscored their opponents 105-21 after that.

“We had a lot of girls out this year that helped us,” Langford said. “I’m pretty sure they can do it again next year.”

Phillips thinks this group of girls is one of the best to ever come through the program.

“This year was the best team one through 15 we’ve had,” he said. “We’ll lose six seniors, but I think we’ll be 10 strong again next year. We’re right back to where we need to be.”

Sturm thinks the future looks bright.

“My freshman year was the year after they won it (last), so we had high expectations (this year),” Sturm said. 

“I guess they’re going to have high expectations next year, too.”