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ASA softball: Local girls win state, head for nationals

Five local softball players team up to win ASA 16U state title


CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Oregon Breeze, which includes three players from Scappoose, and one each from St. Helens and Banks, blew their way through the competition to win the ASA 16U state title last weekend. Jessie Dykes, Hannah Galey and Kendal Bailey play for Scappoose. Abby Austin plays for St. Helens, and Mary Schorn played for Banks last season.Five local softball talents, playing for the Oregon Breeze, won the ASA 16U championship last Sunday in Medford, but in a way nobody could have expected.

Facing some of Columbia County's best in the title game, Tigard Blast coach Grant Olson apparently knew he was outmatched. Midway through the game, after the Breeze had blasted home seven runs in a single inning, Olson threw in the towel.

Hannah Galey, who played alongside Scappoose's Jessie Dykes, Sage Harrison, and Kendal Bailey, as well as Abby Austin of St. Helens, had an excellent vantage point for the fireworks on July 12.

“They weren't making errors, we were just hitting the ball really well,” Galey remembered. “I was on third, and he just walked past my coach and said, 'Well, we'll just see what else we can give you.' And that was in the third or fourth inning, so he pretty much just gave up.”

Already trailing 9-2, Olson put in a pitcher who hadn't thrown strikes since pitching at the 12U level. Her slower pitches were hard enough to hit that she ended up striking out one of the Breeze players, at which point Olson stepped forward and forfeited the game in the sixth inning.

Bailey painted a picture of the tough road Tigard had endured to reach the championship to begin with.

A loss in the first round knocked the Blast into the losers bracket, meaning they had to play 10 games in total, while Oregon Breeze only played six. The extra games meant the pitching staff was spent by the time they'd reached the final, and just as they had done the entire tournament, Galey and her cohorts took full advantage.

According to Bailey and Galey, the games weren't even close — even the contests leading up to the title game.

“Did we-- I think we 10-runned those teams,” Bailey said hesitantly, turning to Galey for support.

“Did we 10-run all except for the Blast for the championship?” Galey responded.

If it seems as though the pair are quickly brushing aside their competition, it's because they've earned the right.

Their first game, an 11-0 shellacking of Hometown Spirit, was over early. Their round of 32 contest, a 10-2 win over Kaos Fusion Power, wasn't close either. The round of 16 game against Oregon Thunder breezed by with a 14-2 win, and the girls topped Eugene Thunder 11-5 to reach the semifinals.

Things didn't slow down from there, as Oregon Breeze thumped 'Boom Boom Tap' by a score of 12-1 for a spot in the title game with Tigard Blast.

A tough regular-season schedule had the squad well-prepared, according to Galey, who said they knew early on that making the title game was a definite possibility.

“I think after the first two or three games, after we run-ruled those teams, we figured if we just kept it going [we had a shot,]” she said.

Building of a champion

But how did this team come together? How did five girls — and a sixth, Mary Schorn of Banks — from rural high schools manage to bind themselves together and form such an offensive machine? As it turns out, the team was a result of addition by subtraction.

Following last season, Galey's ASA team broke into fragments.

“It was a team that had been together for five or six years, but a bunch of the girls decided that it wasn't something they wanted to do in college, so they quit,” Galey said.

Her father, Wayne Galey, began to look at the number of talented softball players with local connections. They started to recruit, and put together somewhat of an all-star team. The mix-and-match roster proved to be deeply talented, and also provided a chance for the girls to get familiar with other players from around the state.

“It's awesome because we have a girl on our team from Banks, and that's our rival for high school ball. Girls from our team will go say hi to this team from Tigard or Tualatin and West Linn,” Bailey said. “We have a girl on our team for ASA who's from Eugene, and drives up for practice. She knows girls from Eugene, we know Banks and St. Helens. Everybody knows everybody. It's like a softball community.”

Goals for next spring

For Bailey, who will close out her high school career next spring, winning the ASA state title was a wakeup call.

“Winning that state championship for ASA, it's like, “okay, I want to do this for high school,' because it's an even bigger deal,” Bailey said. “You have your hometown and everybody supporting you as a community. That's what my dad keeps talking to me about. Like, 'you get that chance to win a state championship, you'd better be working your butt off.'”

Scappoose was one of the state's top teams at the Class 4A level in 2015, eventually falling to Banks in the quarterfinals. Banks went on to blast Mazama in the semis while McLoughlin unloaded on Yamhill-Carlton 24-0, before the Pioneers took the 2015 state title.

Now that they've seen some of the state's best softball athletes, the Scappoose duo knows a high school championship is within their grasp.

“Going back to high school where we know we have an even better chance next year of winning state, I think it's a big confidence booster,” Galey said.

Bailey agreed, saying the experience of the ASA tournament prepared them for the big games in their future — including the very near future. The ASA Oregon title qualified the team for the ASA/USA 16U Gold National Championships, which will be held in Salem beginning on July 19.

“Not only are we just playing ASA, it's getting us ready for that moment when we're in the state championship, quarterfinals, semifinals,” Bailey said. “We're getting ready for that moment.”

Oregon Breeze

Play-in: ORB 11, Hometown Spirit 0

Round of 32: ORB 10, Kaos Fusion Power 2

Round of 16: ORB 14, OR Thunder 2

Quarterfinal: ORB 11, Eugene Thunder 5

Semifinal: ORB 12, Boom Boom Tap 1

Championship: ORB 9, Blast 2