DALLAS — Crater softball coach Chris Arnold went with his gut and it paid off in a Class 5A first-round state playoff game Wednesday.
Arnold stayed with starter Jamie Cappello instead of using his pattern of bringing in Megan Wagner as a relief pitcher and, with Cappello doing the job inside the circle, the Comets used a late rally to upset the No. 3-seeded Dragons, 2-1.
Crater (14-14), a No. 14 seed, advances to a second-round game on Friday at Rex Putnam (19-5) in Milwaukie. Putnam, a No. 6 seed, posted a 6-0 win over Central.
“We went old school today,” said Arnold. “We changed our mindset with our pitching rotation because of the in-game situation.
“Jamie maintained her composure in some tough situations,” explained Arnold. “Her pitch count was low and she was doing a good job of controlling their hitters.”
The numbers didn’t tell the story for the sophomore pitcher, who allowed five hits, struck out three and walked three.
“(Cappello) had a couple of timely strikeouts and she threw pitches that their hitters turned into outs,” said Arnold. “Jamie is hard to rattle.”
In the first inning, Cappello worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam when junior shortstop Jordan Peterson snagged a line drive and doubled off the Dallas runner at first to end the threat.
Arnold had Wagner warming up in the sixth, but Cappello got out of the inning facing just four batters.
Cappello got into trouble in the seventh but the Comet veteran coach stayed with his starter. The Dragons had runners on first base and third base with two outs when Mackenzie Ryerson caught a sharply hit ball in left field to end the game.
Trailing 1-0 going into the sixth, Crater knotted the score on Kaila Lee’s two-out, high chopper that scored Hannah Joseph from third. Joseph doubled off the bottom of the left-center field wall and moved to third on Peterson’s groundout before coming in with the tying run.
Ryerson started the winning rally in the seventh with a leadoff single. Then Arnold sent up pinch-hitter Jessica Sanderson, one of the Comets best bunters, to lay down a sacrifice.
“It was text-book perfect,” said Arnold about Sanderson’s bunt, “and Ryerson went all the way to third. Mackenzie made a great read.”
Kaci Carder culminated a 12-pitch at-bat with a grounder to the right side of the infield that scored Ryerson with what proved to be the winning run.
“Kaci Carder had the at-bat of the game,” said Arnold. “She fouled off everything they threw at her. She executed in the clutch.”
Cappello and Harris; Simmons and Wallace. W — Cappello. L — Simmons. 2B — C: Joseph. 3B — D: Whitlow.
GRANTS PASS 5, WEST ALBANY 3: At Grants Pass, Devin Ireland went 3-for-3, including a two-run homer in the sixth inning that proved to be the winning hit, and drove in four runs for Grants Pass in the second round of the 6A state playoffs.
Grants Pass (23-5) advances to a quarterfinal Friday against No. 2 Clackamas.
Caver senior pitcher Alyssa Etheridge went the distance, allowing seven hits and two earned runs.
Gamble and Davis; Etheridge and Kuykendall. W — Etheridge. L — Gamble. 2B — WA: Johnson. HR — GP: Ireland.
HERMISTON 4, EAGLE POINT 3: At Hermiston, Sydney Stefani tripled and scored on an error in the bottom of the fifth inning to break a 3-all tie and lead No. 7-seeded Hermiston to the first-round victory in the Class 5A state playoffs.
Eagle Point (18-9) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning behind an RBI single by Riley Shopp and RBI double from Miyah Smith, who finished 3-for-4 with one run and two RBIs.
Hermiston (17-9) answered with a three-run home run by Ashley Cameron in the third inning but that lead was negated in the fourth when Smith supplied another RBI double for the 10th-seeded Eagles.
Shopp allowed three earned runs on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts for Eagle Point, which hit into three double plays in the final three innings to quell its comeback hopes.
Shopp and Thompson; Ju. Almaguer and Noland. W — Ju. Almaguer. L — Shopp (15-8). 2B — EP: Smith 2. 3B — H: Stefani. HR — H: Cameron.
TOLEDO 5, BUTTE FALLS 0: At Toledo, Mikayla Retherford tossed a no-hitter for top-seeded Toledo in the first round of the Class 2A/1A state playoffs.
Retherford only had two strikeouts against Butte Falls (10-11) but the Loggers’ simply couldn’t find open space against the Boomers (21-4).
Tana’ya Barnhart went 2-for-3 to pace Toledo, which managed only six hits off Butte Falls pitcher Jocelyn Posey.
Posey and Johnston; Retherford and Barnhart. W — Retherford. L — Posey. 2B — T: Barnhart. 3B — T: Otis.
JUNCTION CITY 7, PHOENIX 5: At Junction City, Phoenix jumped to an early lead but one bad inning proved costly for the Pirates in the opening round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
The ninth-seeded Pirates (17-10) grabbed a 2-0 first-inning advantage. Dylan Knudson got the rally going with a one-out walk, stole second and moved to third on Brennen Watts’ groundout. Nathan Stella followed with a walk and Jonathan Halligan and Kade Beer hit consecutive RBI singles.
But the second inning was the undoing for Phoenix starter Freedom Martinez, who was unbeaten in six decisions previously. The Tigers sandwiched five singles around an error to chase Martinez after allowing four runs. Stella finished an inning that saw eighth-seeded Junction City (20-7) score all seven of its runs on seven hits and two errors.
Stella blanked the Tigers the rest of the way, giving up three hits and striking out three over 4?2/3 innings.
Stella and Beer each had two hits and two RBIs to lead the Pirates’ attack.
Martinez, Stella (2) and Merriman; Keeler, Fuller (3), Iboa (5), Guzman (6) and Trout. W — Fuller. L — Martinez (6-1).
SANTIAM CHRISTIAN 14, ROGUE RIVER 3: At Corvallis, Rogue River came up short in its first state playoff game since 2011.
Santiam Christian (19-8), West Valley League champion, moves into Friday’s Class 3A quarterfinals and will face the winner of today’s game between Warrenton at Cascade Christian.
The Chieftains (14-9), the Southern Cascade League runner-up, completed their first winning season in eight years.