Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Greyhounds punch state playoff ticket

Gaston beats Neah-Kah-Nie 6-2 to earn a spot in the Class 2A/1A state playoffs

Playing in a loser-out game is always a truth-telling type of experience.

Some teams rise to the occasion while others wilt under the pressure.

So what about the Gaston softball team last Wednesday? Well, the Greyhounds — even as young as they are, with just one senior on the roster — stepped up when it counted.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES
 - Gaston sophomore Daisy Clark gets caught in a rundown during last Wednesday's Northwest League playoff game against Neah-Kah-Nie.

“I think they brought it all today, put all the pieces together and played solid defense and hit the ball — still right at people a little bit, but found ways,” Gaston head coach Kristin Larkins said after her team’s 6-2 Northwest League playoff victory against Neah-Kah-Nie. “Found ways to score, found ways to be aggressive on the bases and capitalize.”

With a spot in the Class 2A/1A state playoffs on the line, the Hounds controlled their game at Sherman/Larkins Stadium in Forest Grove from the outset and emerged with the program’s ninth state playoff berth in 10 seasons.

The 16th-seeded Hounds are scheduled to play No. 1 Pilot Rock/Nixyaawii, the reigning state champion, in Eastern Oregon at 4:30 p.m. today.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD
 - Gaston catcher Taylor Bassel lays a tag on Neah-Kah-Nie's Maddie Lambert during last Wednesday's Northwest League playoff game.

“I think that our defense was awesome,” said pitcher Charity Hall, who got the win in the circle. “We really came out and showed who we are as a team. It took a while for our bats to get going, but we had it at the end and we were confident.”

Last Wednesday, Neah-Kah-Nie, the league’s fourth seed, upset Knappa 16-9 in the first game of the league playoff to set up a winner-take-all contest with Gaston, the No. 2 seed.

Gaston’s first run came in the second during a wild sequence with two outs. Daisy Clark got it going when she drew a walk from Pirates pitcher Maddie Lambert. Then Anna Stolley knocked a ball to center field, where Neah-Kah-Nie (8-14) committed an error, and Clark suddenly found herself in a pickle between second and third.

But she got out of it when a couple of throws were not on target, and she was able to scoot home for a 1-0 lead.

After Hall — who finished the game with 12 strikeouts — retired the Pirates in order in the third, Gaston (14-11) added two more runs in the bottom half. Julia Clark was struck by a pitch to load the bases and then Abbey Zawodney came up with a clutch two-RBI base hit up the middle for a 3-0 lead.

“In the beginning, everyone had the jitters up and then it settled down ... like the third inning, so that we could get comfortable,” Daisy Clark noted.

In some ways, the moment of the game came on defense for the Hounds. In the fourth, the Pirates put runners on second and third with one out, but Gaston turned a beautiful 1-3-2 double play to end the threat. First, Hall flipped a bunt pushed back toward her to Zawodney. Then the first baseman’s dart back home was right on target for catcher Taylor Bassel to lay a tag on Lambert.

Neah-Kah-Nie did pull a run back in the top of the fifth, but Gaston answered with three more in the bottom half, including one on an RBI triple by Daisy Clark for a 6-1 lead.

The Pirates scored their second run in the sixth on Annie Romig’s base hit and put two runners on with two outs in the seventh, but Bassel sealed the Hounds’ playoff spot when she corralled Esmeralda Ramirez’s popup to end the game.