Tualatin opens the state playoffs with a 2-0 win over West Salem
WILSONVILLE -The youthful Tualatin High School softball team may have finally put things all together.
And the timing for that couldn't be any better.
The Timberwolves, getting a standout pitching performance from freshman Emily Sorem, a solid defensive outing in addition to being opportunistic on offense, opened the Class 6A state playoffs by scoring a 2-0 win over West Salem in a first-round tilt played Tuesday at Wilsonville High School.
'This is very exciting - I'm overwhelmed with excitement,' Tualatin senior Morgan Windhorn said after the win. 'I think the big thing is that we've come together as a team.'
'This means a lot to us,' Tualatin freshman catcher Nikki Miller said. 'This shows how we've come together as a team. I think our team chemistry took over.'
West Salem, the No. 2 team out of the Central Valley Conference, finished its season with a final record of 20-7. Tualatin, the No. 4 team from the Pacific Conference, upped its season mark to 16-11.
'That was a complete team effort,' Tualatin coach Jenna Wilson said. 'They brought it.'
The Timberwolves, in Tuesday's game played under cold, wet conditions, grabbed a 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the second inning.
Senior Anna Dempster got things started with a leadoff double down the right-field line. She moved to third base on a passed ball and then scored the game's first run on a one-out squeeze bunt by Windhorn.
West Salem threatened in the second inning, loading the bases with two outs in the frame. But Sorem got an inning-ending strikeout to get out of the jam. The freshman right-hander then struck out the side in the fourth inning to help the Wolves keep their 1-0 lead.
Tualatin was then able to tack on another run in the top of the fifth inning. Windhorn got things rolling with a leadoff single to center field. She then moved to second on a bunt by freshman Kyleigh Grouell.
West Salem then committed a throwing error after Miller belted a hard-hit grounder to the left side. Windhorn, not hesitating at all, came all the way around to score on the play, giving the Wolves a 2-0 lead.
'I wasn't stopping. I had my mind set,' Windhorn said of the scoring play. 'That's what I like to do - I like to run.'
Tualatin threatened again in the top of the seventh inning, as junior Shelby Doering drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Windhorn and then advanced to third base on a line-drive single to center by freshman Johnna Malafouris. But the Wolves weren't able to add to their lead.
West Salem junior Sophia Haugen singled to right field to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning. But the Tualatin defense stepped up from there.
Sorem struck out Jasmine Frenadez for the first out of the inning. The next West Salem batter, sophomore Maddy Melton, put down a bunt. But Miller, reacting quickly, got the ball and made a rifle throw to sophomore second baseman Beth Fanger, who was covering first, for an out on a close play.
Tualatin senior third baseman Ashley Cooley then fielded a grounder off the bat of West Salem senior Jannette Isaac and made a quick throw to Windhorn at first, with Windhorn making a scoop grab for the out on another close play, wrapping up the victory.
'People didn't expect us to do this,' Windhorn said with a smile. 'I think we'll keep it going.'
Sorem, in the victory, got the shutout on five hits while striking out 11 and walking none.
'She was amazing,' Windhorn said. 'Especially for a freshman.'
'I love Emily,' Miller said. 'She's a big asset to the team. She brings a lot to the table.'
Tualatin had four hits in the win - one each by Dempster, Miller, Windhorn and Malafouris. The Wolves also had five sacrifice bunts.
With Tuesday's victory, Tualatin advanced to play at Clackamas in a second-round state playoff game on Wednesday. Results of that game weren't available when The Times went to press.