MILTON-FREEWATER — The McLoughlin High School softball team opened the first round of the state playoffs here at Yantis Park Wednesday with a 4-0 victory over the Stayton Eagles.
The Pioneers got two RBIs from shortstop Megan Reed: a sacrifice fly and an RBI double.
“She (Megan Reed) has been swinging the bat consistently all year long and it has been huge for us,” Mac-Hi coach Nicole Christian said. “She is one of our best players at picking up runners. I think she leads the team in RBIs. It is always good to have her at the plate when we’ve got runners on.”
Mac-Hi first baseman Makayla Kelly singled for another RBI and courtesy runner Jenny Field scored the Pioneers fourth run on a wild pitch.
Three of the four runs that scored reached base on balls.
“The girls struck out more than I’d like,” Christian said of her team, which struck out 11 times in the game, “but a lot of the girls put the ball in play. The girls that did walk were able to score much of the game.”
The game was a pitcher’s duel early on at 1-0 and 2-0, Mac-Hi, until the Pioneers put two more on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Eagles’ starter Lindsay Hill gave up just two hits, walked six and struck out eleven in the complete game effort.
“She (Hill) had a lot of movement,” Christian said. “She had a lot of movement towards the end of the pitch and we hadn’t seen her before. They (Stayton) have two pitchers; we saw the shortstop (Katie Cozart) at Spring Break and beat her 3-2. So we didn’t know which pitcher to prepare for.”
Colette Robert ended up winning the duel in the circle for Mac-Hi. She struck out eight, walked one, gave up two base hits and allowed no runs in seven innings.
And Mac-Hi’s defense backed her up, allowing just one error in 14 chances.
Pioneer second basemen, Meghan Kimball, had six putouts in the game.
“Stayton put a lot of balls in play today and our defense had a great day,” Christian said. “(Meghan) Kimball had a great day defensively, she made a couple of nice plays that stopped big hits.”
Although they were solid in pitching and fielding, the Pioneers had to be crafty to score runs.
In bottom of the first, Mac-Hi’s lead-off hitter Kariss Carillo worked the count full and walked. Karli Cortez sacrifice bunted her to second base.
Colette Robert followed with a soft-liner to second base that was misplayed for an error and Field took Robert’s place as a courtesy runner.
With Field on first and Carillo on third slammed a towering shot that pushed the Stayton left fielder Karly St. Clair’s back to the wall. The ball was caught and Carillo tagged up from third to score the first run of the game.
Mac-Hi scratched out another run in the fourth to make it 2-0.
Robert walked, Field pinch ran again for Robert and Reed walked too. Both runners moved up a base on a double steal.
With runners on second and third with no outs, Reed scored from third on a wild pitch, but Stayton escaped with a pair of strikeouts and a runner-interference call to end the inning.
Mac-Hi doubled its lead in the sixth.
Robert walked and again Field pinch ran and stole second base. Reed hit a line shot to right field for an RBI double, scoring Field.
Kessler walked, pinch hitters Stefanie Copeland and Abi Biggs both struck out and Makayla Kelly singled in Reed from second base with two outs.
The Eagles threatened in top of the seventh with two base runners on, one that reached on a hit-by-pitch and the other that reached on the lone Mac-Hi error.
Robert stranded them on second and third without allowing any runs to conclude the game.
Although Robert made the Pioneers’ four runs stand up for the win, Christian said they’ll need more offense when they play Molalla in the state quarterfinals Friday.
“We need to make adjustments by Friday at the plate,” Christian said. “We’ve got Molalla coming into town and their pitcher is a lefty. We’ve got to bring our bats to win a game and go into the semifinals.”
First pitch will be at 4 p.m. at Yantis Park in Milton-Freewater.
Mac-Hi 4, Stayton 0
Stayton 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
Mac-HI 100 102 X — 4 2 1
Hill and Sunghera. Robert and Kessler.
Hits — Stayton: Cruz, Pietrok. Mac-Hi: Reed, Kelly.