Infant program makes field for first time in its four years

by: Photo By Brian Liebenstein - Culver High pitcher Bree Miller left opposing teams baffled with her tosses this spring. She and Culver advanced to the state tournament that started with a May 28 game at Clatskanie.

Sports Editor
   Carried by a combination of its pitching and hitting Culver earned a berth in the Oregon 2A-1A state softball tournament on Saturday at La Grande.
   Sophomore Bree Miller was Culver's winning pitcher in both games the Bulldogs won to qualify for the state tournament.
   Culver survived missed chances to score in the first game, head coach Jack Layton noted, to still beat Union, 3-1. It then pummeled Pine Eagle, 9-4, to claim Special District 7's second seed. That results in Culver heading for Clatskanie, the Special District 1 champ, for a May 28 game.
   Wednesday's winners advance to play Friday, May 30. If Culver beats Clatskanie, it is either visiting Willamina or Dayton, the second seed from their district, or hosting Waldport, the top seed from District 4.
   "I told the girls if they played good defense, their bats could take care of the rest and that's what happened," Culver coach Jack Layton said.
   In his first year at Culver at earlier years coaching in the Mt. Hood League, Layton noted that the Bulldogs stranded a number of runners in the game against Union, which was seeded second in the East segment of Special District 7.
   "We could have blown that first game open with a couple more hits when we had runners on, but they came up with some big plays," said Layton. He credited Culver's hitters for still coming up with enough hits to make Miller the winner.
   Saturday's weather was windy but did not challenge the pitchers as much as it did the fielders on high fly balls or pop ups, said Layton. The wind was blowing in for most of the day.
   "On one high fly Kristy (Allen, the Culver second baseman) had to keep moving and moving and was only about five feet from first by the time she caught it," Layton explained.
   That second baseman, Kristy Allen proved an offensive weapon for Culver too. Among the 30 base hits clanged out by the Bulldogs, one was a second-game triple by Allen. She singled as well. Culver singles proved the foundation of its attack, which as aided by not just Allen's triple, but a first-game triple and second-game double, by Miller, plus triple, by Hagman, in the second game.
   Miller also had flawless defense, with no errors, behind her in the first game of the playoffs.
   Union commited just one error in the first game to keep from giving up more runs that it did.
   "To me, it looked like we were playing the best of any of the teams there," Layton said. He expressed confidence the Bulldogs could have beaten Pilot Rock, which won three of the four games they played against each other earlier.
   On Saturday in La Grande, Pilot Rock needed a late rally to beat Pine Eagle in the first game of the day. Pine Eagle was ahead in that game in the late going, 3-1, before it made a couple too many errors and Pilot Rock took advantage.
   Miller and the rest of Culver's Bulldogs turned in a steady pitching and fielding performance to give Pine Eagle some things to think about while watching Culver and Union.
   Culver fans wishing to travel to Clatskanie will find the easiest route to take U.S. Highway 26 into Portland, get on I-5 and 405 then to exit 405 when hitting the Highway 30 exit to St. Helens. By continuing west on 30 travelers enter Clatskanie and go through a stop light before seeing a sign to the school, just before a Safeway. The road winds but the school is a mile or less from the turn.
   Admission is charged to state tournament games under OSAA guidelines and will be $6 for adults and $4 for students until the championship game at Erv Lind Stadium in Portland. The charge for that June 7 game will be $7 for adults.
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