Oregon City's run through the OSAA Class 6A softball playoffs came to an end Tuesday -- one game shy of a trip to the championship final.
Kelsey Day's two-run homer broke a sixth-inning tie and Natalie Munson added another two-run homer in the seventh, leading the Westview Wildcats to a 7-1 victory over the top-ranked Pioneers in Tuesday's semifinals at Oregon City High School.
Westview pitcher Mia Patino held the Pioneers to one run on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts to help send the Wildcats (27-4) into Saturday's championship final against North Medford, a 4-3 winner over Tualatin in Tuesday's other semifinal.
Oregon City ended the season 26-3.
"We thought from the very beginning that we had a chance to go as far as any Oregon City has gone or farther," senior first baseman Jadwyn Parrish said. "We got it done. We didn't go all the way, but we got it done.
"You can't have a better end unless it's a championship, but we got this far and that's all that matters."
The Pioneers had opportunities, but left six runners on base and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
"There's not much you can say, really," Oregon City coach Dave Adelhart said. "Westview played a great game. You have to give them that.
"We just weren't in top form today. We were a step behind and they took advantage of it and got the win."
Tuesday's semifinal started out as a pitchers' duel between Oregon City's Morgan Hornback, the hard-throwing junior, and Patino, the unflappable freshman phenom.
Hornback took a one-hit shutout into the third inning when Westview's Emma Williams reached safely on a two-out, infield single, then stole second, and scored on Ananya Koneti's triple, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Oregon City got the run back in the fourth when Hornback singled with one out and Parrish followed with a double down the left-field line, scoring courtesy runner Emily Dugan from first base.
Hornback struck out the side in the fifth, but then ran into trouble in the sixth as she faced the heart of the Westview batting order for the third time.
Koneti, the junior first baseman, led off the sixth with a sharp single to left, and then Day, the Wildcats' cleanup hitter, drove a 2-2 pitch from Hornback over the fence in center to give Westview the lead.
"I was a little off that at-bat and then I guess I saw a pitch that I liked," Day said of her seventh homer of the season. "It was a little outside, which is nice, and then I felt like I was timing her really well in my two earlier at-bats.
"There are some hits when you make contact and you can just tell it's going far. That was one of those."
Westview coach Ronda McKenzie said Day initially went to the plate looking to get on base or at least move the runner into scoring position, not take Hornback deep.
"I was trying to get her to bunt and then I was trying to get her to slap one by the third baseman who was up in her face," McKenzie said. "Finally, with two strikes, I said, 'You do what you want to do,' and she wanted to swing away.
"You just never know. She's got a good bat."
After that, the Westview hits kept coming, including Patino's two-out, RBI-double in the sixth, Day's RBI-double in the seventh, and Munson's two-run homer that pushed the Wildcats' lead to 7-1.
Westview finished with 10 hits -- five for extra bases -- which had almost everyone in the Wildcats' dugout tipping their caps to assistant Jackie Imhof, the former Oregon Tech ace who regularly throws batting practice.
"That's been huge all season," McKenzie said. "We have to attribute our success hitting this year, at least in part, to seeing live pitching every day against a quality pitcher like Jackie."
The Wildcats advanced to the state final for the third time in school history and the first time since 2015, who they lost 10-0 in five innings to Tualatin.
"We're pretty excited," McKenzie said. "These are players that played with a chip on their shoulder and a smile on their face all season long. No one expected us to do much and they kind of wanted to prove to everybody that they could."
Oregon City won the Mt. Hood Conference title outright for the second season in a row, and then opened the playoffs with consecutive wins over Lake Oswego, West Salem, and McNary, taking a 13-game win streak into Tuesday's semifinal.
"I felt good about this game until the last pitch," Adelhart said. "My philosophy is to never give up until the last pitch, and I always think there's an opportunity no matter what. We came back int eh sxith and seventh and put some pressure on them. It was just too little, too late.
"It's a tough loss, but it was a great season for the program -- best record we've ever had, first time in the semifinals since 1987 -- so you've got to give special recognition to this group of kids for the effort and hard work that they put in all year long."
Oregon City graduates three seniors -- Megan Blackman, Hailey Jones, and Parrish -- but returns its entire starting lineup with the exception of Parrish at first base.
"Going into the season, we knew we were going to have a good year, and it was just up to how hard we wanted to work throughout the year to keep that up," Parrish said. "There is nothing that this team can't do next year. The sky is the limit for this team."
Said Adelhart: "We'll see what next year brings. We want to come out of the gate strong and come back stronger than we were this year. We've got some great kids coming up in the program, so it's looking good for Oregon City softball."