Crater catcher Sarah Haga is unable to get the tag down in time as Roseburg's Beccah Maley slides in safely at home on a suicide squeeze bunt during the fifth inning on Wednesday. - Andy Atkinson

Miscues doom Crater

Through four innings Wednesday, Crater had the look of a team destined to advance in the Class 6A softball state playoffs.

But when the rain returned for the top of the fifth inning, it seemed to offer a bad omen for the Comets.

The first sign was a warmup pitch by junior Renee Murphy that squirted from her hand and skipped closer to third baseman Haley Fox than catcher Sarah Haga.

The signs kept on coming, with second baseman Hannah Sacchi unable to get a handle on a grounder by Makinna Akers to open the frame with the first of what would turn into five errors in the fifth that led to five runs by visiting Roseburg.

The Indians used that inning to put the Comets in a bind, then pulled away with three more runs in the seventh to score an 8-3 triumph in the second-round contest at U.S. Cellular Community Park.

"I think a lot of our errors kind of fed off one another," said Crater head coach Chris Arnold, whose team capped its season at 17-10. "Sometimes when one athlete on the team makes a mistake the others feel for her and want to try a little too hard, and sometimes the wheels do fall off and things do kind of unravel. It was kind of one thing leading to another and it was tough to stop the bleeding that inning."

After Akers reached on an error, Beccah Maley beat out a slow roller to Fox for only the second hit against Murphy. Pinch-hitter Sydney Reynolds then lofted a fly ball to right-center field that right fielder Rachel Ray was camped under until center fielder Dennae Grant collided with her teammate in an effort to catch the ball.

Bad turned to worse moments later when Justine Rhines pulled off a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to plate one run and then shortstop Malorie Mitchell tried to gun down Reynolds at the plate on a fielder's choice grounder by Erin Lee, only to have the throw sail well wide of Haga.

A passed ball led to another run, and an RBI groundout by Bree Thomas made it 5-1. Mitchell then had a liner glance off her glove and Tatum Anderson followed with a single to center field before Crater locked things down with a groundout to Mitchell and a liner snared by Sacchi.

"We actually hit the ball pretty well in that inning but then they probably gave us three runs there, too," said Roseburg head coach Tony Campos.

"It is always better to be batting there," the coach added of the wet conditions. "(Murphy) had a couple balls down and we had a couple passed balls that we ended up getting to advance on and score on. That's tough, it's really tough on a pitcher."

The skies cleared for the rest of the game but the Indians (16-10) were able to essentially keep the Comets at bay in the fifth meeting between the Southern Oregon Hybrid squads this season.

Both coaches said the familiarity between the teams made for an interesting but comfortable matchup, with few surprises in store unlike when facing a nonleague opponent. Crater won 3 of 4 in the regular-season series.

"I think it does help because we know their hitters, they know our hitters, so it's just going to come down to who actually performs," said Campos. "They're a very good team and (Murphy's) a good pitcher. She flat shut us down the first three times we faced her and the fourth time we finally got after her a little bit and our kids got a little confidence from that. We were able to put a few balls in play and get a little pressure on them and I think that helped give us confidence for today."

The Comets began their comeback effort in the sixth when Grant drew a walk to lead off the inning. The speedy senior held her ground as Ray wound up flying out to left fielder Lee in foul territory, but then took to the basepaths to try and get in scoring position for Mitchell, who posted an RBI double in the first inning. Grant got a good jump and beat the throw to the bag, but her sliding momentum carried her past second base and she was quickly tagged out by the shortstop Thomas.

Such an outcome seemed a little deflating moments later when Mitchell cranked a two-out single up the middle that likely would have driven in Grant. Thoughts of what might have been built to a crescendo after Murphy stepped to the plate and cranked a line-drive home run over the right-center field fence to make it 5-3.

"Murphy did a good job right there because we were actually trying to stay away from her a little bit with two outs," said Campos. "We had a base open and she hit that ball right where it was pitched and took it out."

Haga followed with another deep drive but this one was pulled in by Lee in left field.

Roseburg was the recipient of two hit batters to start the seventh and a chopper to the shortstop Mitchell that left her with no play to load the bases. Murphy induced a comebacker for the first out of the frame, but Meghan Sanders followed with a two-run double to right-center and Akers added an RBI single to rebuild the Indians' lead.

Fox led off the seventh with a double but, after a line-drive out to the shortstop, was erased on another liner by Caitlin Medina that was nabbed just above the turf and relayed to second for a game-ending double play.

"It was a good win for my team because Crater's actually dominated us the last couple years, even in nonconference games that we played them," said Campos. "They're a good program with a good team and are very well-coached."

Murphy and Akers each tossed six-hitters with one walk in a game that had its start delayed 30 minutes by driving rain, hail and a few lightning bursts. Murphy posted six strikeouts and Akers had five, but the Indians didn't commit an error to the Comets' five.

"Renee threw really well today, I thought, especially early on," said Arnold. "But Roseburg's focus was good and they made great adjustments at the plate. They're definitely a tenacious offensive team."

Roseburg 000 050 3 — 8 6 0

Crater 100 002 0 — 3 6 5

Akers and T. VanVolkenburg; R. Murphy and Haga. W — Akers. L — R. Murphy (16-8). 2B — R: Sanders; C: Mitchell, Fox; HR — C: R. Murphy (3).

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or email Follow him at

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