Softball Bulldogs battling for state berth

Playoffs Saturday at La Grande

   Having swept in Stanfield-Echo in a regular-season-ending Saturday doubleheader, Culver High's softball Bulldogs will continue their road show this Saturday, May 24.
   This time, though, there's more at stake. The Columbia Basin Conference's second place team, Culver will vie for a ticket to the Oregon 2A state tournament at the district playoffs at La Grande. Only two of four teams starting Saturday's action will make the state tournament.
   Culver coach Jack Layton said that the information he'd been provided indicated the first foe Culver will have to beat Saturday will be Weston-McEwen.
   Twin one-hitters twirled by senior Lanisha Goicoa and sophomore Bree Miller let Culver claim 13-1 and 10-0 wins in those games at Stanfield.
   Beating the co-op team of Stanfield-Echo on May 17 let Culver finish CBC play 17-3, second only to Pilot Rock, the only team to beat Culver.
   The playoff format in La Grande will call for Pilot Rock and the other winner to meet before Culver takes on the other second-place team for the right to play the first game's loser to decide the second seed from the district.
   Saturday's winning pitchers for Culver were both caught by Marissa Hagman, one of Goicoa's fellow seniors on the team, along with Brieona Whitaker.
   Chiming in at the plate for Culver in its final wins were Kristy Allen, Kelli Lytle and Kelsea Lang. Each of three doubled in the first win over Stanfield-Echo while Allen and Goicoa added home runs to the attack.
   Culver mounted momentum for the May 24 CBC playoffs -- which determine the group's two teams advancing to the 2A state tournament -- by sweeping Wahtonka May 13, at home.
   More than half the Bulldogs contributed multiple base hits as Miller record both victories in Culver's 8-4 and 11-1 wins that day.
   Improving its CBC mark to 15-3 assured Culver second in its division.
   Culver was coming off a May 13 loss to first-place Pilot Rock but showed few ill effects in the games with Wahtonka. Culver did, however, trail Wahtonka temporarily.
   Strong hitting, sparked by Miller herself plus Goicoa, Hagman and Whitaker, among others, let Culver use Miller's pitching to prevent an answer, once it led 8-4.
   Neither team scored in their final two at bats in the first May 13 game or early in the second game.
   By the time Culver's second inning came along, it was in position to score the first run of the contest. A few hits to augment bases on balls picked up a single run in the second and two more in the third.
   Staked to the lead when Allen tripled ahead of a Hagman double in the bottom of the second, Miller picked up a bigger cushion in the bottom of the third. She led off that frame by poking a single in the area between the shortstop and centerfielder before an eventual two-out walk by Catrina Schehen. Allen's patience at the plate let her drive in Miller which set up Hagman to score Schehen with the second RBI ground ball of the inning.
   A steal attempt by Hagman disintegrated into an out when Wahtonka catcher Lindsey Lick displayed her good throwing arm. The out was a rally-killing one as it eliminated any room for error that Culver enjoyed.
   Coincidentally enough, Lick's sister Lacey Lick came to bat in the Wahtonka fifth. She launched a home run that proved the visitor's only scoring in game two.
   Culver kept getting to Stanfield pitcher Ginger Ransoam, a couple more runs at a time.
   Picking up two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning helped Culver get enough that its six-run explosion in the sixth-inning ended the game early.
   Bree Miller's hits helped Culver keep on course for the playoffs. The more runs added to Culver's total in the bottom of the fifth than just a couple, had not Ransoam contained Culver.
   Jessica Calderon started that inning against Wahtonka with a grounder that handcuffed the third baseman just enough to let Calderon reach base. That set the stage for Goicoa. She doubled to drive in 2 RBI.
   Eventually the Culver contingent got really untracked and scored six times in the sixth to end the second game.
   Lang, Nikasha Jones, Miller, Calderon, Goicoa and Allen each eventually scored in the final inning for Culver with the outburst capped by another Allen double.