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Hawks soar to state semifinal victory

Softball: Horizon Christian gets a 3-0 win over Blanchet Catholic to earn a shot at the state title
by: JAIME VALDEZ HAPPY HAWKS — Horizon Christian players celebrate following the semifinal win over Blanchet Catholic.

WILSONVILLE - It's been a magical ride for the Horizon Christian High School softball team.

Thanks to an impressive win on Tuesday, the Hawks' ride continues.

In fact, it's taking them all the way to the Class 3A state championship game.

Horizon Christian earned its first-ever trip to the title tilt by scoring a 3-0 win over Blanchet Catholic in a Class 3A state playoff semifinal game played Tuesday at Wilsonville Memorial Park.

Blanchet Catholic, the No. 1 team in the OSAA Class 3A power rankings and the PacWest Conference champion, finished its season with a final overall record of 21-5.

Horizon Christian, the No. 3 team out of the West Valley League, improved to 20-9 on the season with the victory.

The Hawks will next face Glide on Friday in the Class 3A state title game, set to start at 1 p.m. at the Oregon State University Softball Complex in Corvallis.

Glide, the Sunset League champion, brings a 27-0 record the state championship game. Glide scored a 10-0 win over Grant Union in a semifinl contest on Wednesday.

Horizon Christian used a total team effort to triumph in its semifinal game with Blanchet Catholic.

Junior Anna Dempster picked up the pitching win. She spun a two-hit shutout, striking out four. She also got plenty of help from the Horizon Christian defense, including junior Maggie Bachhuber, who made four key grabs of fly balls in center field.

The biggest defensive gems of the game for the Hawks came in the fifth inning, when they were holding a 1-0 lead.

Blanchet had runners on second and third with one out in the frame. The next Cavalier batter put down a bunt. Horizon Christian junior third baseman Jessica Thoens fielded the bunt and threw to sophomore first baseman Liz Caron for the second out. Caron then made a quick throw to senior catcher Victoria Mortensen, who tagged the Blanchet runner trying to score from third to complete an inning-ending double play.

Horizon Christian took its 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Mortensen reached base on an error and she ended up scoring on a Dempster single.

The Hawks tacked on a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Senior Gracie Dempster singled to get things started. Anna Dempster followed with a single. Caron then singled in Gracie Dempster to make the score 2-0.

Anna Dempster then scored on a groundout by Thoens to up the margin to 3-0.

Prior to the semifinal win over Blanchet, Horizon Christian scored an 11-7 win over West Valley League foe Willamina in a quarterfinal game played Friday at Hoodview Park.

Anna Dempster picked up the pitching win, striking out 12 batters.

Caron helped lead the offensive attack, going 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and two RBI. Mortensen and junior Claire Paul each went 2-for-2. Freshman Josie Claus, Anna Dempster and Gracie Dempster each added RBIs.

Horizon Christian took an 11-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning of that contest. Willamina rallied to push five runs across in the plate in the final frame, cutting the lead to 11-7 with one out. But Bachhuber made a catch in center field and Mortensen grabbed a pop up for the final two outs, wrapping up the win.

Horizon Christian opened postseason play by scoring a 6-5, eight-inning win over Rainier in a first-round game May 25 at Wilsonville Memorial Park.

The Hawks trailed 3-0 going into the bottom of the sixth inning of that game, before scoring five runs to go up 5-3. Rainer scored twice in the top of the seventh to tie the game. Horizon Christian wasn't able to score in its half of the frame, sending the game to extra innings.

After holding Rainer scoreless in the top of the eighth, the Hawks struck for the winning run in the bottom of the frame, with Caron driving in the game-winner.

Anna Dempster got the pitching win, striking out 13.