The Lady Bowmen will play at Hermiston Friday

by: DAN BROOD - IN ACTION -- Sherwood sophomore shortstop Katie Zook (left) reaches for the ball as Putnam freshman Elysia Webb slides to second base in Friday's game.SHERWOOD — The Sherwood High Softball team wanted to earn a postseason.

The youthful Lady Bowmen squad knew that the easiest way to help make that postseason goal a reality would be to defeat Rex Putnam in the team's regular-season finale.

But, despite coming up with a spirited late-game rally, Sherwood came up short, falling 11-6 to the Kingsmen in a Northwest Oregon Conference contest played Friday at Sherwood High School.

“That was a tough one,” Sherwood coach Jenny Highberger said after the loss. “We definitely wanted this. We have to play the waiting game now.”

The waiting game turned out to be, well, worth the wait.

With the top 24 teams in the OSAA power rankings moving on to postseason play, the Lady Bowmen held on to get the No. 24 spot in the final rankings, finishing just ahead of Putnam, which finished in the No. 25 spot, less than a point behind the Lady Bowmen.

Sherwood's reward for earning the postseason bid is a trip to the eastern part of the state. The Lady Bowmen will travel to Hermiston to meet the Bulldogs Friday in a Class 5A state play-in game.

Sherwood, which tied for sixth place in the final NWOC standings, will take an overall record of 6-19 into Friday's game at Hermiston. The Bulldogs, who finished in second place in the Columbia River Conference, are 14-12 on the season.

The winner of Friday's game at Hermiston will advance to play in the Class 5A state playoffs. Sherwood, if it wins on Friday, will play at Pendleton in a state playoff first-round game on Wednesday.

The Lady Bowmen, in last Friday's game with Putnam, found themselves facing an early deficit, as the Kingsmen scored three runs in the top of the first inning.

But Sherwood answered back, scoring three runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. The Lady Bowmen did all of their damage in the inning with two outs and the bases loaded.

Sherwood sophomore Katie Zook was hit by a pitch to get the big inning started. Lady Bowmen junior Hannah Zweig, freshman Emily Carlson and senior Adryanna Seitz followed with consecutive hits to produce three runs, tying the game.

Putnam regained the lead, at 4-3, with a run in the top of the second inning. Sherwood threatened in the bottom of the frame, as sophomore Grace McClain hit a one-out single and then proceeded to steal both second and third base, but she was left stranded.

Putnam broke the game open in the top of the fourth inning, scoring four times in the frame to up the margin to 8-3. Junior Ashley Culp had the big hit for the Kingsmen in the inning with a two-run double.

Putnam scored two more runs in the fifth inning and another in the seventh to up its lead to 11-3.

But Sherwood came fighting back in the bottom of the seventh.

Lady Bowmen senior Talea Stashin, McClain and sophomore Alex Newman drew consecutive walks to open the inning. Zook then laced a single to center, driving in both Stashin and McClain to make the score 11-5. Following a pair of strikeouts, Seitz reached base on a Putnam throwing error, with Newman scoring on the play to cut the lead to 11-6.

But Putnam coaxed a game-ending groundout to escape the jam and end the game.

“We gave it our all,” Highberger said. “We battled throughout and came on strong at the end. But we couldn't string the hits together.”

Putnam finished the NWOC season with a 5-9 league record. Sherwood finished up at 4-10 in league play.

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