Youth is no handicap as Oregon City Nightmare takes state in 12-B

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Oregon City Nightmare players pose proudly with their championship medals and trophy from the Oregon Amateur Softball Association 12-B State Tournament. Pictured are: (front, from left) Allie Edwards and Callie Blanchard; (second row) Hannah Sisul and Makenzie Chambers; and (back) Emily Dugan, Morgan Hornback, Aubree Schrandt, Liberty Robinson, Zoe Munn and Camryn Williams.The Oregon City Nightmare was everybody’s nightmare at the recent Amateur Softball Association 12-B State Championship Fastpitch Tournament, played in 100-degree heat in Medford July 6-8.

The Nightmare won the double elimination tournament despite being one of the younger teams in the 35-team field.

“All of our girls came up from 10-U,” said Nightmare coach Ron Williams. “None of them had played 12-U before this year; they’ll all be able to play 12-U ball again next year.”

The Nightmare coaches and players expected to be competitive this year. Most of the girls on the team played on a Nightmare team that won the state 10-U title a year ago.

Still, winning state this year was no small accomplishment. The girls had to learn to play with a bigger ball; they faced faster pitching, and most of the teams they played had players who were a year older.

“The girls we were playing against were a whole lot bigger and they hit the ball a lot harder,” said Williams.

Williams said that his pitchers and starting catcher played huge roles in this season’s success story.

“Our pitchers, Morgan Hornback and Liberty Robinson, were better than any pitchers we saw out there,” Williams said. “Our starting catcher, Zoe Munn, was the best catcher in 12-U softball this year and her backup, Makenzie Chambers, is as good as most catchers we saw.”

Hornback pitched 29 innings at the state tournament, striking out 40 and tallying a 0.83 ERA; Robinson pitched 16 innings, striking out 10 and tallying a 0.0 ERA.

Williams said that Hornback has a fastball, drop and change, and “she throws real hard.”

He said of Robinson, “She’s got a change, curve and fastball, and she’s real accurate.”

And he said the fact that his pitchers have former University of Oregon pitcher Amy Harris coaching them doesn’t hurt.

“Zoe is great at blocking the ball and throwing people out,” Williams said of his catcher. “Most people are afraid to steal on us when Zoe’s catching.”

The Nightmare had a .271 team batting average for the state tournament, led by Robinson (.462), Chambers (.381) and Munn (.346). Hornback (8) and Chambers (7) led in runs scored: Chambers (7) and Aubree Schrandt (6) were the RBI leaders.

Hornback said she was not at all surprised that the Nightmare won the state tournament this year.

“We played most of the teams [that were at state] earlier in the season and beat them, so I wasn’t surprised,” she said.

Still, the Nightmare did have some close games at state, and they had to win an “if” game in order to claim the state crown.

They went 5-0 in championship bracket play, defeating the Beaverton Silver Bullets 9-3, Medford Black Tornado 6-3, Central Oregon Misfits 1-0, Oregon Rampage of Forest Grove 13-2, and Oregon Thunder of Hillsboro 3-2.

They then lost to the Silver Bullets, who had battled back through the losers’ bracket, 9-4 in extra innings. But they regrouped and buried the Bullets, 11-1 in five innings, for the title.

“We knew we could beat [the Silver Bullets in the final], because we played them twice before the state tournament and beat them both times,” Hornback said.

Hornback (5 strikeouts, 2 walks) threw a 2-hitter in the final, pitching shutout ball after giving up two hits and one run in the first inning. Munn, Chambers and Callie Blanchard had two hits apiece, as the Nightmare stung the ball for 10 hits in the final.

Hornback pitched a no-hitter in the 1-0 win over Central Oregon, striking out 11 and walking four. The Nightmare scored the game’s only run in the top of the seventh. Chambers reached on an error and scored from first when Hannah Sisul bunted down the third base line, and a Central Oregon defender overthrew first base.

The 3-2 win over Oregon Thunder went down to the wire, with the Nightmare scoring the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh inning. Munn led off the inning with a triple and Robinson singled her home.

Five of the players on the Nightmare’s 10-player roster live in Oregon City: Hornback (pitcher/first base), Sisul (second/first/outfield), Camryn Williams (second/outfield), Allie Edwards (shortstop) and Emily Dugan (outfield/third).

Mann (catcher) and Chambers (catcher/third/outfield) commute from Hood River; Robinson (pitcher/third) is from Milwaukie; Aubree Schrandt (outfield/first) and Callie Blanchard (outfield) are from West Linn.

Nathan Hornback, Scott Robinson and Laird Blanchard are assistant coaches.

Williams said he expects the team to return intact next year, when they play at the highest level of 12-and-under fastpitch softball, 12-U-A.

The Nightmare have two more tournaments this summer before they take a break from softball. Next week they travel to Newberg for the North American Fastpitch Association Nationals, and the following week they travel to Salem for the ASA Western Nationals.

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