Crater’s Taylor Mackey makes a diving attempt at a ground ball during the Comets’ 4-2 victory over Summit. - Jamie Lusch

Crater launches quest for three-peat

CENTRAL POINT — When it comes to pitching in big games, few are better than Brittany Reeves.

The Crater High senior showed her championship form again on Tuesday, matching a season high with 13 strikeouts as the Comets moved one step closer to a possible third straight state softball championship with a 4-2 victory over Summit in a Class 5A second-round playoff game at Don Faber Memorial Field.

"Pitching is the name of the game," said Crater coach Chris Arnold. "In the playoffs there are good pitchers all the way around. She's definitely one of the most dominant pitchers in the state."

Getting ahead in the count of the majority of batters, Reeves (14-7) allowed five hits, no earned runs and walked just one. She struck out the side in the second and third innings and had two strikeouts in the fourth, fifth and seventh.

"Everything was good," said Reeves, who was the starting pitcher in last year's state title game, but did not get a decision in the 3-2 win over Glencoe. "They were laying off my riseball, so I wasn't using that as much. I was being really cautious with every batter until I knew what they were capable of."

"Brittany never defines success in terms of strikeouts," Arnold said. "Even though she has good numbers, she's not out trying to strike kids out, but to be a smart pitcher. The strikeouts come as a result of that."

"She was hitting her corners today and she was very accurate," Crater catcher Sarah Haga said of Reeves.

Southern Sky Conference champion Crater (15-12) advances to the quarterfinals for the fourth time in the last five years and will meet Churchill, a 2-1 winner in eight innings against Silverton Tuesday, on Friday. The Comets are attempting to become the first team in any Oregon classification to win three straight state championships since Harrisburg (2A/1A) turned the trick in 1999-2001.

"Every season is different," Arnold said. "To be successful in the playoffs it takes a lot of things. We have to continue to elevate our game. And the ball has to bounce your way as well. You have to have some breaks during the run. We had them last year and we had them the year before."

On Tuesday, those breaks came in the form of aggressive baserunning and four Summit errors that lead to all the runs.

Crater took a 1-0 lead in the second when Taylor Mackey singled and scored on an errant throw to first base by Summit pitcher Kylie Freeman on Emily Medina's bunt. Errors by shortstop Jenn Sweet and Freeman, combined with hits from Kayla Hopkinson and Tara Ruvalcaba, produced three more unearned runs in the third for a 4-0 Comet lead.

The Comets managed six hits against Freeman (13-8), but Hopkinson's double was the only extra-base hit. Haga and Ruvalcaba both had RBIs. Every player in the Crater lineup either reached base or had a successful sacrifice.

"We've got some kids that can hit the ball," Arnold said. "But making adjustments is more important than just standing up there wailing at the ball."

Summit (15-13) got two runs back in the fourth when Crater's Sarah Smith threw away a potential inning-ending groundball, allowing Sweet and Becky Defoe to score. But Reeves responded by striking out the next three batters she faced. She retired nine of the next 10 batters until allowing a pair of two-out singles in the seventh.

"She was getting ahead in the count and we weren't being aggressive getting after that third strike pitch," said Sweet, the only member of the Summit lineup not to strike out at least once.

Summit 000 200 0 — 2 5 4

Crater 013 000 x — 4 6 2

Freeman and B. Defoe; Reeves and Haga. W — Reeves (14-7). L — Freeman (13-8). 2B — S: A. Johnson, Sweet; C: Hopkinson.

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