Softball: Kennedy falls 3-2 to North Douglas in 2A/1A semifinals
The Kennedy Trojans' championship aspirations were dashed on Tuesday evening in a 3-2 loss to the visiting North Douglas Warriors in the semifinals of the 2017 2A/1A state semifinals hosted in Mount Angel.
After returning all but one starter from last year's state semifinal team, Kennedy (19-6, 15-0 Special District 2) was looking to get over the hump and return to the championship game for the first time since 2007, but ran into a a red hot North Douglas (21-4, 10-2 Special District 3) team that kept the Trojans scoreless for the first five innings of play.
The two clubs kept each other scoreless through the first two innings before North Douglas plated a run in the top of the third to take a 1-0 lead.
The Warriors maintained their advantage through the next two innings until the top of the sixth when the Trojans turned to strong-armed freshman Grace Schaecher to relieve junior starter Tressa Riedman.
Schaecher had little trouble getting the first two batters to ground and fly out, respectively, but walked the next two batters, who were subsequently driven home on the next at-bat to make it a 3-0 game.
Kennedy returned to Riedman, who got the final out and helped spur the Trojans' rally in the bottom of the inning.
Juniors Molly Jaeger and Hannah Arritola opened the sixth with back-to-back singles, making way for Riedman to drive a two-run double to right center field, pulling the Trojans to within 3-2. The rally would have continued if not for a diving catch from North Douglas freshman Joanna Alcantar that robbed Kennedy's Abby Frey of a base hit that likely would have driven Riedman home.
The Warriors were able to get out of the inning without suffering any further damage, but were held scoreless in the top of the seventh, giving the Trojans one last opportunity to rally for the victory.
Kennedy senior Rheannan Hernandez opened the inning with a sharp line drive out to right center field, but Alcantar again played the hero role for the Warriors, stretching out to nab the ball out of the air just inches from the ground.
Schaecher gave the Trojans hope in the next at-bat, picking up a single to put the game-tying run on base. Leadoff hitter Emily Frey was able to move Schaecher into scoring position in her turn at the plate, but was called out at first in the process.
With two outs and Jaeger up to bat, Schaecher moved to third on a passed ball, putting the tying run just 60 feet from home plate.
Jaeger nearly brought Schaecher home with a streaking ground ball up the left side of the infield that passed into foul territory by mere inches, but struck out two pitches later to end the game and send the Trojans home early.
The loss was Kennedy's first of the season to a 2A/1A team, with its previous five losses all coming against 3A clubs. North Douglas advances to the state championship game for just the third time in school history, where it will face two-time defending champion Pilot Rock/Nixyaawii (25-5, 10-2 Special District 6) on Friday at the Oregon State University Softball Complex.