REDMOND — Nearly half an hour after she slid into home plate and scored the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning, Ridgeview’s Emma Cannon said she still felt nervous.
“Which is weird,” Cannon admitted, still excited and jittery after the Ravens’ 6-5 comeback win Wednesday against No. 9 La Salle Prep in the first round of the Class 5A softball playoffs. “That’s definitely the most intense game I’ve ever played. I think we really came together in the end, and I liked that a lot.”
With the score tied 3-3 in the top of the seventh and two La Salle runners on base, Ridgeview pitcher Allicite Frost had a golden chance to escape the inning unscathed. She induced a ground ball from Alexis Kemp for the second out, and then easily picked up a comebacker from Tyka DuPuis. But instead of making the routine toss to first base, Frost sent the throw over her teammate, and two runs scored.
“That proves that anything can happen in any sport,” Ridgeview coach Sandy Fischer said of the off-target throw. “Your chances of winning the lottery are about as good as her overthrowing the base. It just doesn’t happen. She plays third base and shortstop when she’s not pitching, so she’s got a very good arm.”
But Frost, who was the first batter up in the bottom of the seventh, did not have time to panic or fixate on the mistake. She was walked on five pitches.
“I just kept it all in — I knew I had to do something for the team and get on base,” Frost said. “I felt like my team had my back, because after making that error and going down by two runs, I had a good feeling that we were going to hit.”
Cannon, who hit behind Frost, said the pitcher gave her a short pep talk before the inning started.
“Right before Allicite and I went up to bat, she told me, ‘We’ve got this, this is all us. This is what we play for,’” Cannon recounted. “I don’t know if she inspired herself, but I would’ve been inspired if I had said that. She was very patient (at the plate), and I’m very proud of her.”
Pinch runner Carissa Love replaced Frost on first, and she scored when Cannon’s drive to center field was misplayed. Cannon reached third base on the play. In the next at-bat, Marley Sargent grounded back to La Salle pitcher DuPuis, and Cannon raced home and beat the tag by the Falcons catcher to tie the score at 5-5.
“I saw the pitcher turning to get the ball, and I didn’t know if she would make (the catch) or not, but either way her body was positioned towards first, so she would have to turn around,” Cannon recounted. “I was like, OK, I guess I’m going to go! I was really nervous, but I guess I wasn’t thinking, I just reacted.”
Sargent advanced to third on a steal and a ground out and, in an odd echo of the top of the inning, scored the winning run when Ridgeview Lorena Vasquez hit the ball to DuPuis, hitting her on the hand and preventing her from fielding the ball cleanly. The pitcher held her left hand gingerly as the Falcons (16-11) and Ravens went through the postgame handshake line.
Ridgeview, which will travel to No. 1 Pendleton for the state quarterfinals Friday, scored five runs in the sixth and seventh innings after scoring just once in the first five.
“I expected some nerves, because we started five freshmen,” Fischer said. “We’re kind of like the diaper squad — we’re very, very young. And to see them succeed through those nerves is very gratifying for the coaches and very gratifying for them. I think they took a step forward today, despite of how poorly we hit for a while.”
One of those freshmen, Kiani Nakamura, helped break the Ravens out of their batting doldrums in the sixth inning. With runners on second and third, Nakamura stepped up to the plate. She fouled off the first pitch, then whiffed on the second. She then took three straight balls before punching a single to center, tying the score 3-3.
“Some games are like this, where it’s not a domination thing,” Fischer said. “Winning is luck, sometimes, in combination with not quitting. They kept fighting, and for freshmen in that situation, that said volumes to me about their future.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0305, email@example.com