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Thunder repeats as summer state champs

The club softball team beats West Linn twice to claim the 18U state title


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Members of the Sandy Thunder, coached by Sandys Jonathan Allinger, pose with the championship trophy after last months title run. The Sandy Thunder 18A softball team repeated as the Oregon ASA state champions this summer. The 2012 16A state champions entered this season with 10 returning players from last year’s championship team. They went 6-1 in the double elimination bracket at the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation complex last month.

The first game of the tournament Sandy Thunder drew a rematch with the NW Buzz who they had played in the championship game at the Stars n’ Stripes tournament in Salem earlier this summer, which Sandy won 5-3.

Sandy jumped out early with a 2-0 lead in the first. The Buzz rallied for 6 hits and 5 runs in the bottom of the third and took the momentum. Paige Allinger lead off the fourth with a solo home run but the next six batters were retired in order.

Sandy got a lead off single in the sixth from Ashlynn Schmitt which led to 4 runs and a 7-5 lead. Schmitt singled and again scored in the top of the seventh. The Buzz came back as neither team wanted to go the loser bracket. They pushed a run across in the sixth and led the bottom of the seventh off with a single down two runs.

Trouble came when the next hitter placed a ball down the left-field line that the left fielder dived after and missed. The ball went to the fence. Center fielder Meghan Luebbert got to the ball, as the batter turned for third base. Her rocket throw beat the runner for the out and kept Sandy’s lead at 8-7. The next batter grounded out to end the game.

The Thunder won the second bracket game 9-1 over the Southern Oregon Extreme with Mercedes Green going 3 for 4 with a double and 3 RBI’s. Lexi Jennings was 3 for 3 in the game and Luebbert hit a 2-run homerun.

The South Valley Storm couldn’t handle the bats either and the Thunder rolled to an 8-0 win in game 3. Molly Nutt led the charge with a 3 for 3 performance.

After winning their first 3 bracket games, the Thunder faced a West Linn team with a lineup full of college players. West Linn won the game 8-0 and sent Sandy into the do-or-die bracket.

The Thunder rebounded with strength with an 11-2 win against an overmatched Crushers team, as Mackenzie Spencer took the mound Sunday morning to earn a rematch with the undefeated West Linn in the finals.

The Thunder scored early and took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first against West Linn. The Thunder added 3 more in the third before West Linn answered with one of their own in the fourth and then again in the seventh.

Jaycee Nelson pitched a brilliant game keeping their hitters off balance. Sandy went on to win the game 5-2 which forced a winner-take-all rematch between the teams.

Sandy again scored early to take a 2-0 lead in the top of the first after a leadoff single by Luebbert who continued on to have a 4 for 5 game with a double, two runs and two RBI’s. Sierra Benson took the mound in this game and had one of her best outings of the year giving up just two hits. Her defense came up big too, with Luebbert making one of the greatest plays of the year with a diving catch in center field.

Sandy pounded 14 hits to claim the 18U championship with an 8-1 win.

Sandy Thunder's head coach is Sandy resident Jonathan Allinger. His assistant coaches are his wife, Angie Allinger and Sandy resident Robb Spanier. Coach Allinger started the Sandy Thunder team in 2004 and has coached them the past 9 seasons starting back at 10u.

"Last season these ladies showed they could compete,” he said. “This year they proved they are champions and we are so proud of them."

The team includes Sandy High School players Chelsea Spanier, Meghan Luebbert, Molly Nutt and Paige Allinger. The rest of the roster includes players from Canby, Tualatin, Mollala, Beaverton, Springfield, and Thurston High School. Nine of the girls graduated high school this year with Allinger and Nutt being the two returning to high school this fall.

"This fall you will see many of these girls playing college ball at Mt. Hood CC, Concordia University, Western Oregon University, and College of the Redwoods. It will be exciting to see where they go with softball and life from here. "

Sandy Thunder had one more tournament after State. They travelled to Park City, Utah for the Triple Crown World Series for a highly competitive tournament featuring many teams from all states west of Colorado and Utah. Sandy Thunder opened pool play with a 6-0 win over the Arizona Cats who had won the tournament the prior year. They then lost to the Salt Lake City Flames in a 2-1 game. After rebounding with a 9-0 win against the Idaho Golden Gloves, they lost to a Colorado Warriors team 4-1. As they worked through the winner's bracket, they won a rematch with the Salt Lake City flames 3-1 which put them up against the Arizona Cats. The Thunder saw the Cats bats come alive in a 14-7 loss. The Cats went on to win the tournament again (the Thunder’s pool play victory was the Cats only loss in the tournament.) The Thunder came back again strong and beat the Phoenix Heat 3-2 to move into the final 4. In another game with the Colorado Warriors, Sandy opened the game with a leadoff homerun from Luebbert. The game was tied 3-3 in the 6th inning but the Thunder left the bases loaded. The Warriors scored two in the bottom of the 6th to take a 5-3 lead. The Thunder battled with catcher Mercedes Green hitting a shot that bounced near the base of the fence to have two runners on base before the next batter grounded out to end the game. The Warriors went on to finish 2nd after losing to the Cats in the finals.

Will there be a shot at a 3-peat for the State title? Coach Allinger says, "The plan was for this to be our last season with so many graduating from high school. We'll assess where these girls are next spring and make a decision then. Never say never."

The team finished 2nd in the Silver bracket of the Valley Invite in June and went 6-0 in the “Stars and Stripes” tournament in Salem in early July. For the season, they were 22-7-1. Nutt led the team with a 0.431 average and also scored 29 runs. Luebbert led the team with 6 HR’s and 33 runs scored and had a batting average of 0.410.