Eagle Point falls short in extras

EAGLE POINT — Karlie Stephens has rarely played a better softball game than she did on Friday.

The Eagle Point junior pitcher accounted for more hits with her bat (three) than she allowed with her arm (two). But for all of the good that Stephens accomplished on Friday, it was one costly mistake that she will likely remember far longer than either.

Stephens' throwing error on a routine sacrifice bunt in the eighth inning allowed the winning run to score as Liberty stole a 2-1 victory over the Eagles in a Class 5A first-round playoff game at Eagle Point High.

"It's disappointing," EP senior catcher Cheree Dale said. "But we battled as hard as we could and things just fell their way today."

Liberty (15-13), which posted a winning record and made the playoffs for the first time in the school's six-year history, will face Intermountain Conference champion Pendleton (23-3) in the second round on Tuesday.

"It's such a great experience for our team and our seniors who have spent four years trying to build this program," Liberty coach Kelly Scheese said.

Eagle Point (14-13) posted a winning record for the third straight year, but failed to match the 2007 team that came within a single run of reaching the state title game. What will likely haunt the Eagles is the fact they had 11 hits — all singles — but left nine runners on base and had two more thrown out on the basepaths in a game where runs were at a premium.

"It's certainly frustrating," said first-year Eagles coach Diana Swopes, whose team had runners in every inning. "You just wait for that one hit, that one break. We played a good game. They were hitting the ball hard, they just couldn't get it to fall."

Stephens, who allowed just three hits in a 3-2 win over the Falcons on March 23, was even better on Friday. She allowed just a pair of singles and nary an earned run, striking out four and walking two. After Liberty bunched together its two hits and was the recipient of a throwing error to take a 1-0 lead in the fourth, Stephens retired 11 straight batters before disaster befell her in the eighth.

Allie Woodson led off the inning with a ground ball that went through Mackensie Re's legs at shortstop, allowing a rare base runner. Stephens then walked the No. 9 hitter, Cami Gregory. Leadoff hitter Heather Meeuwsen attempted to sacrifice the runners over, putting down a bunt between the circle and third base that Stephens fielded cleanly. But Stephens' throw to first was wide right, allowing courtesy runner Tessa Matteson to race home with the winning run.

"I thought the third baseman (Jamie Paxton) was going to get it," Stephens said. "We were both calling it and I just took it and hurried up to try to get the throw and it just got away from me."

The Eagles mounted one final threat in the bottom of the inning against Liberty pitcher Trina Baggerly, getting hits by Dale and Christine McCready to put the tying run at second base. But Courtney Bowling's groundout ended the rally. Baggerly repeatedly worked out of trouble, striking out just one but not walking a batter.

Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, EP finally scored when Stephens — who went 3-for-4 at the plate — led off the inning with a single. Dale followed by beating out a bunt for an infield hit. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch before Samantha DeVaughan's suicide squeeze bunt scored courtesy runner Krystyn Cline to tie the game at 1. But the Eagles could get no more.

"Whenever you have two teams that are in the playoffs, it comes down to who gets the bounce," said Dale, who plans to play softball at George Fox University next year. "Unfortunately, that wasn't us today."

Liberty 000 100 01 — 2 2 1

Eagle Point 000 001 00 — 1 11 4

Baggerly and Woodson; Stephens and Dale. W — Baggerly. L — Stephens.

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