South Umpqua’s season ends with semifinal loss at Henley
There was no fear when the South Umpqua Lancers took the field in the OSAA Class 4A softball semifinals against No. 3 Henley, the defending state champion, on Tuesday in Klamath Falls.
“We started off well, with high energy,” S.U. coach Joelle McGrorty said. “The girls were really ready to play.”
S.U. gave the Hornets about all they could handle for two innings, then a couple of mistakes turned the tide and Lancers weren’t able to answer. Henley went on to take a 6-3 victory and claim a spot in the state championship game for the second straight year.
The Hornets (26-6) will face No. 1 La Grande, a 5-0 victor over Philomath, in the championship game Saturday at the Oregon State Softball Complex. The loss ended the season for S.U. (23-6), the Far West League champion.
“We made some errors that we couldn’t come back with hits against,” McGrorty said. “We knew we had to bring our ‘A’ game.”
Kalie Mann gave S.U. an early 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the first inning off Henley ace Lilly Poe.
The Lancers made it 3-0 after the top of the second with three hits in four at-bats. Tayah Kelley got the RBI, driving in Skylee Gibson.
Poe, however, kept the Lancers from doing more damage by recording six strikeouts in the two innings.
Henley’s first five runs all came with two outs. A walk and two singles scored the Hornets’ first run in the bottom of the second, then back-to-back homers by Maddie Perez and Carli Moore with two outs tied the game in the third.
A walk, a single by Kaila Mick to center and an error allowed the Hornets to score two fourth inning runs and move in front.
S.U.’s usually potent lineup wasn’t able to answer. The Lancers stranded three runners over the final four innings and left five on base in the game.
Having faced Henley twice early in the season, the Lancers had an idea of what to expect and they had their best hitting performance against Poe of the season with six hits off the junior. After striking out 13 in the previous two meetings, Poe managed nine on Tuesday.
“I don’t think they were intimidated by her at all,” McGrorty said. “We did work really hard to prepare them to face her. Some of the hits we did get — they have a really good defense — went to people. We needed to hit the holes better than we were doing.
“I am proud of them with the way they played. We have to learn from it and come back full force next year.”
The Lancers do not have a senior on their roster, so can return the entire lineup next spring.
“I’ve got a great group of girls that I enjoy coaching and I’m looking forward to next year already,” McGrorty said. “I think they’re looking forward to it, too.”
S. Umpqua 210 000 0 — 3 7 4
Henley 012 201 x — 6 11 2
Kelley and Rudy; Poe, Melsness (6) and Perez. WP — Poe. LP — Kelley. HR — Mann (S.U.), Perez (H), Car. Moore (H).
Hits — S.U. 7 (Kelley 2-4, Lowell 1-1, Mann 1-3, Gibson 2-3, Ferguson 1-3), Hen. 11 (Nemec 1-2, Mick 2-4, Perez 1-4, Car. Moore 1-3, Northcutt 2-3, Hamilton 1-2, Virtue 1-1, Poe 2-2). RBIs — S.U. 3 (Mann 2, Kelley), Hen. 4 (Nemec, Perez, Car. Moore, Poe).