Bend High continued to take care of business Wednesday.
A day after clinching at least third place in the Mountain Valley Conference and a spot in the Class 6A state softball playoffs, the Lava Bears run-ruled rival Mountain View 15-2 in five innings.
Bend secured the playoff berth Tuesday by defeating South Salem 8-2 behind the pitching of freshman Lena Zahniser.
“Lena pitched a great game, stuck out 14 against a good hitting team,” first-year Lava Bears coach Tom Mauldin said of Tuesday’s home victory. “She’s throwing the ball well.”
Bend raced to a 5-0 lead Wednesday after two innings at Mountain View. But the Cougars, in search of their first win of the season, answered with two runs in the third when Nikki Young’s bunt single scored Emma Romero and then Emily Antoni came home on a ground ball by Olivia Keane.
With one out and two Mountain View runners on base, Zahniser entered the circle in relief of starter Erin Conrad, getting the ground ball and then a strikeout to get out of the jam with Bend holding a three-run lead.
The Lava Bears added three runs in the fourth inning and seven in the fifth.
At the plate, Zahniser was 3-for-4 with a double. Fellow freshman Madison Godfrey was also 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
“They’ve done an outstanding job,” Mauldin said of the two freshmen. “Lena is hitting right at .500 and Madi is hitting the ball over .500. They swing the bat hard. Our future looks real good.”
Mountain View dropped to 0-13 in the MVC and 0-22 overall. The Cougars wrap up league play Friday at Summit (1-11, 1-18) and then host South Eugene in a nonleague game next Wednesday.
“They’re kind of in the same boat we are, a young team,” Mountain View coach Sarah Stacy said of South Eugene, which is also searching for its first win. “These girls have grown so much. You’re measuring skills rather than wins.”
At 10-3 and tied with West Salem for second place in the MVC, the Lava Bears finish the regular season Saturday at 11-1 McNary in Keizer. West Salem plays at Sprague on Friday.
But Mauldin said Bend will not go to McNary at full strength.
Senior second baseman and leadoff hitter Ashleigh Parker is trying to come back from a right knee injury she suffered on April 29 at McKay.
“We’re hoping to get her back for the playoffs,” Mauldin said. “She gets us going. She’s our get-up-and-go person. She’s one of our defense MVPs and she’s got great speed. She hits for power. She does a lot of positives for us.”
But senior Jessi Wiest, who had an RBI single at the plate and retired the Cougars 1-2-3 in the fifth inning from the circle, is confident as the Lava Bears go to McNary and then look to the postseason.
“I think we’re playing a lot better,” Wiest said. “I think we’ve got a chance this time. I’m excited. We’re more focused. We realize it’s kind of the end and we want it more.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, firstname.lastname@example.org