Pioneers down Ridgeview, play for state title Saturday

Mac-Hi's Colette Robert (left) and Mallory Copeland celebrate Tuesday.

Mac-Hi's Colette Robert (left) and Mallory Copeland celebrate Tuesday. Photo by Greg Lehman.

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MILTON-FREEWATER — McLoughlin High School pitcher Colette Robert has garnered her share of acclaim this season for her service in the circle.

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Mac-Hi's Collette Robert (left) and Mallory Copeland celebrate the final out against Ridgeview Tuesday evening.

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Ridgeview's Hannah George scores the Ravens' first run before the tag by Mac-Hi's Mallory Copeland Tuesday evening.

That trend has continued in the postseason.

Robert’s bat has proven to be equally devastating against opposition both inside and outside the Greater Oregon League.

Her latest hitting display occurred Tuesday night in an Oregon Class 4A state semifinal softball showdown with Ridgeview at Yantis Park.

Robert slugged four hits including a pair of home runs and threw a six-hit complete game in the Pioneers’ 10-2 triumph over the Ravens.

The junior hurler and University of New Mexico Lobo-to-be has rapped 10 hits in three postseason games. Robert has allowed just five runs and 13 base knocks to opposing batters during the Pioneers’ playoff push.

Mac-Hi, which improved its record to 22-3 with its 19th straight victory, will face Henley for the 4A state crown at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Oregon State University in Corvallis. The championship berth is the Pioneers’ second in as many seasons.

Not bad for a team that does not have a senior on its roster (five juniors, six sophomores, and four freshmen) and returned just one standout (Robert) from last year’s squad that was edged in the 2013 title tilt by Banks, 1-0.

“I’m happy for the girls,” Mac-Hi coach Nicole Christian said. “All we’ve heard is that (a return to the championship game) is not going to happen. That fueled the girls.”

The Pioneers tallied Tuesday’s first run in the last of the third inning. Shannon Carter worked Ridgeview starter Sara McKinney for a two-out walk and Robert followed with a bullet single to left field.

Carter scored on the play after Ravens’ left fielder Alex Spencer misplayed Robert’s shot.

Ridgeview took the lead with two runs and three hits in the fourth inning.

Mac-Hi tipped the balance of the game in its favor for good in the bottom of the fifth. Abi Biggs and Brooke Kralman reached base on free passes issued by McKinney.

With two out, Robert drove a 1-0 pitch over the left-center fence to give the Pioneers a 4-2 lead.

Robert said afterward that she wasn’t sure if this was the biggest homer she has ever hit, but stated that “It’s the happiest I’ve been on one.”

The game’s outcome was all but decided after Mac-Hi banged out six hits and an equal number of runs in the last of the sixth. The frame’s most crushing blow was administered by Robert with two out and the bases loaded. She launched an 0-2 delivery from Ridgeview reliever Rachel Collins over the fence in left-center to give the Pioneers an 8-2 lead.

“I knew she was going to throw me a change-up,” Robert said. “I never want to give in. I wasn’t going to take it easy. I put everything I had into it.”

“The count doesn’t matter,” Christian said. “One thing we’ve always lived on is that if you have two strikes, you still have a pitch to hit.”

RBI singles by Mallory Copeland and Makayla Kelly capped the outburst.

The Ravens loaded the sacks with none out in the seventh, but failed to score. Kelly, Mac-Hi’s first baseman, turned in the frame’s defensive gem when she gloved a soft line drive off the bat of Hannah George and applied a tag on base runner Lexy Brown — who had advanced too far off of the first-base bag — for a three-unassisted double play.

A large partisan crowd was on hand to cheer on the Pioneers, something that Christian happily pointed out after the game.

“It was great to see the crowd,” Christian said. “It was great to draw in that support. It’s a big thing for the community and huge for us.”

Now it’s on to Saturday’s title match.

“Last year, we vowed we’d get back (to the championship game),” Robert said. “We’re on our way and ready to go.”

Mac-Hi 10, Ridgeview 2

Ridgeview 000 200 0 — 2 6 1

Mac-Hi 001 036 X — 10 12 1

McKinney, Collins (5) and Davis; Robert and M. Copeland.

HR — Mac-Hi: Robert 2.

Hits — Ridgeview: Brown 2, George, Ware, McKinney, Spencer; Mac-Hi: Robert 4, S. Copeland 2, Kralman, Erb, Biggs, Field, M. Copeland, Kelly.

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