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home : sports : sports April 29, 2016

5/7/2013 12:58:00 PM
Three losses knock Outlaws from softball league lead
Taylor Nieri makes a stop at shortstop vs. Junction City. photo by Jerry Baldock
+ click to enlarge
Taylor Nieri makes a stop at shortstop vs. Junction City. photo by Jerry Baldock

By Rongi Yost

Just a week ago, the Sisters High School varsity softball team was sitting atop the Sky-Em League standings in a quest for the school's second league title.

Then the Outlaws came up on the short end of three pitcher's duels and find themselves battling for a post-season berth in the playoffs.

The Outlaws' two-game lead over Elmira a week ago vanished with a pair of shutout losses to Junction City, 1-0 and 3-0, and 4-3 to Elmira. The three-straight losses dropped the Outlaws to 9-4 (15-5 overall) and in a second-place tie with Junction City. Elmira, meanwhile, won three straight to take the league lead at 10-3 going into the final week of play.

Elmira's final-week foe is Cottage Grove (2-11), while the Outlaws get winless La Pine twice. Junction City has a pair of games with Sweet Home (8-5). Sweet Home blanked Junction City, 5-0, the first time the two teams faced this season.

Thus, the Outlaws find themselves needing a little help from their friends to grab the Sky-Em title or even second place. A lot of scenarios come into play for SHS, but the simplest is for the Outlaws to sweep La Pine, and Sweet Home to befriend SHS with a win - or two - over Junction City.

"We are now sitting and waiting for other game results to decide our fate," said Outlaws Coach Ben Miller. "We had our last game (1-0 loss to Junction City) decide whether we were first in league or third. It was a tough blow, but I am still proud of these girls, and very proud of a few. Now, with so much up in the air and out of our control, we will take it one game at a time."

In last week's one-run loss to Elmira, the Falcons overcame a six-hit effort from sisters Cassidy (four-for-four) and Maddie Edwards. The key for Elmira was McKenzie Ingram, who reached on a fielder's choice, stole second and third and then scored on a wild pitch in the sixth inning to give Elmira the 4-3 victory.

The Outlaws had the lead going into the fifth, 3-1, but Sara Kesling (who went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBI), had a game-tying RBI in the fifth inning. Sierra Woods and Andrea Culbertson each doubled for Elmira.

In the twin blankings by Junction City, Megan Devorak threw a pair of three-hitters, striking out six in one game and nine in the other. Taylor Nieri singled and doubled for Sisters in the 1-0 loss.

Devorak also was part of the game's lone run as she led off with a double and her pinch runner advanced to third on a passed ball and then scored on a wild pitch. That first inning run was all she needed.

"We should have won two of the last three games," said Miller. "Frustration is a feeling, but we have had a good season. We will try to see the positives after the wounds heal.

"The bottom line is, I have faith in these girls and this team as a whole," added Miller. "I think they can go far if they put their minds to it, dedicate and perform."

The Outlaws were to play at La Pine on Tuesday and host the Hawks for Senior Day on Friday at Volunteer Field at SHS. Outgoing seniors are four-year starter Harley Rowe, four-year varsity player Taylor Nieri, Lauren Cantwell, Tiffani Milliman and Cassidy Edwards. Game time is 4:30 p.m.

The Outlaws have also scheduled a playoff tune-up game against Ridgeview (Redmond) for May 14.

"As far as playoffs, I am little unclear how we sit being third. Honestly we are hoping Elmira and/or JC drop one, otherwise we will have a play-in game with a tough team and tougher teams throughout. Not that we are afraid of a tough schedule, but it makes for a harder and longer road."

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