Junior all-stars cruise to district championship
The Jefferson County Juniors All-Star team hammered its way to the district championship last week in Redmond, also winning the sportsmanship trophy.
The local squad of 13 and 14 year-olds earned a spot in the state tournament, to be held in LaPine beginning Saturday, July 22.
The Juniors' win highlighted the Jefferson County Little League's efforts at district. The 10-11 year-old team finished second among eight teams, just missing a title. The 9-10 team was eighth out of 16 teams while the 11-12 team was eliminated. In softball, the 9-10 team was fourth, and also won the sportsmanship trophy. The 11-12 team was eliminated.
For the Juniors, Austin Say pitched two of the squad's seven straight wins at district. Say pitched the locals past Bend North in their opener, 11-1, and then beat Sisters in the championship, throwing an 8-0 shutout.
Offense wasn't a problem either. In the seven games, the Jeff Co Juniors outscored their opponents 94-15.
Turner Gill had a big game at the plate in the opener, going 3 for 3 with five RBI. He followed that up by going 4 for 4 with four RBI, and a home run, against Sisters in the second game, helping Jeff Co to a 14-4 five-inning win. Rodney Smith went 3 for 4 with a grand slam, and pitched the victory.
In game three, several pitchers combined to shut out South Central and Jeff Co won 16-0. Say was 3 for 3 at the plate, Clint Haugen was 3 for 4, and Rodney Smith had a home run.
On July 3, Jefferson County faced Redmond at 9 a.m., and cruised to an 18-4 win, again behind a team of pitchers. Say and Gill were 4 for 4 and 4 for 5, respectively, at the plate, and each ripped four RBI. Say had three doubles and a triple, Martin Brown, who saw mound time in four Jeff Co wins, also had a grand slam.
Later on July 3, Jefferson County had their tightest contest of the tourney, beating Bend South 9-5. Jeremiah Calvin went 4 for 4 hitting, and pitched the opening four innings. Jefferson County got off to a good start, scoring four in the bottom of the first, only to see Bend tie it in the third with four. Jeff Co regained control in the fourth, getting a big two-RBI single from Brown in a four-run inning.
The drive to the title wrapped up on Independence Day. Jefferson County dropped Redmond 18-1. Calvin and Max Stovall each had three RBI and Brown got the pitching win.
The title game against Sisters was close early. But Jeff Co got three in the fourth and three more in the fifth to take control, and eventually win 8-0. Ryan Brunner was 3 for 4 with two RBI. Say shut Sisters down on the mound.
"Playing seven games in four days was grueling, but the guys stayed focused and loose," said Manager Bob Gill. "It all starts with pitching. Our pitchers threw strikes and got ahead in the count.
"We also emphasized defense. We only committed two errors in seven games, so we were obviously pleased with that effort."
The state tournament runs from July 22 through the 25th in LaPine.
"Come out and watch us," said Gill.