When COVID-19 canceled the Lady Prospectors’ softball season, head coach Zach Williams told the girls, no matter what happened, he would keep trying to salvage some semblance of a season.
As soon as the fields opened up in June, Williams put together a team of mostly Grant Union girls and got them to commit to showing up for practice.
The perseverance paid off last weekend when the 18U Lady Pros took third at the North American Fastpitch Association Summer Nationals in Newberg.
Out of the six tournaments, he registered the team to compete in, Newberg’s NAFA tourney, which was the only tournament the girls were able to play in, the rest canceled due to COVID-19.
“In the end, it was short and sweet,” he said. “But we ended it on our terms.”
Williams said he tried to put together a team of only Grant Union girls, which, in years past, is what he has always done with the older players, and they treat the summer league as a high school softball season. He said he could not get the numbers this year.
Williams said, in addition to seven Grant Union players, he brought four high school players from La grande High School.
The four-day national tournament kicked off Thursday.
The Lady Pros won both of their pool games, shutting out Northwest Mayhem 8-0 and besting South Valley Storm 4-3 on a walk-off by Jacee Seavert, a La Grande High School graduate who will play softball for Oregon Tech in the fall.
As a result of winning their first two games, Williams said the Lady Pros were seeded first in their pool and placed in the gold bracket.
He said, in a 16-team tourney, the top eight teams place in a gold bracket, and the bottom half place in silver, or platinum, brackets.
The girls defeated the Northwest Thunder, 5-0, but the Diamond Bandits shut out the Lady Pros 10-0 in their quarterfinal game.
With their backs against the wall, the Lady Pros had to step up and win Saturday.
“We had to win our way back to play for the championship,” Williams said.
The girls bested the Diamondbacks 7-3 in their only game Saturday. Sunday morning, the girls handily defeated the Cascade Christian Challengers, 6-2.
Needing one more win to play for the championship, the girls fell to the South Valley Storm, 13-3, taking third place overall.
Williams said it was good to have all of the girls back on the field before moving on to fall sports or college.
He said four of the girls on the team would play college softball in the fall and another plays soccer while the other five will be returning to their high school teams next season.
“We had a great time,” he said. “And I think everyone got better.”