The Grant Union/Prairie City Prospector softball team ended a successful season in the quarterfinal round with a 5-0 loss to the North Douglas Warriors.
The Prospectors, with five seniors, made it an exciting season, entering the OSAA state championships as the No. 1-seeded team.
North Douglas put a damper on Grant Union’s dreams of winning it all this season, with help from their pitcher Nicki Derrick, a junior.
According to OSAA.org, Derrick threw three five-inning perfect games this season, and the Warriors have only allowed 34 runs in the regular season.
Grant Union head coach Zach Williams said, although that record tops the state, he still thought his team would have a chance at the plate.
“Sometimes you just tip your cap to the other team and say good job,” he said. “They were ready, they battled, they got a lead on us early and they just never gave up.”
Warriors head coach Jesse Rice said he was “a little worried” when it started to rain in the bottom of the third inning.
“She (Derrick) stayed focused and threw the ball hard,” Rice said. “We knew that Grant Union could hit the ball, so were really nervous about it. She went right at ‘em. She definitely threw the ball hard today.”
Senior Macy Strong pitched seven innings for Grant Union, striking out two Warrior batters.
While Grant Union was unable to score any runs, senior Prospector Hailie Wright had two hits, including a double in the third inning. She singled in the fifth, advancing to third base while senior Madi McKrola was at bat and drew a walk. Tiler Voigt, a junior, singled in the fourth.
McKrola was walked twice, and Wright and junior Taylor Allen were also walked.
North Douglas scored on some of Grant Union’s errors, including a couple runs in the seventh when an overthrown ball landed out of play.
“Part of what got us into trouble at the end was trying too hard,” Williams said.
On the defensive side, Grant Union’s three outfielders — Allen at left field, center fielder junior Baylee Combs and right fielder Kori Jo Girvin — caught fly balls for outs.
Grant Union senior first baseman Marissa Smith caught a foul ball for an out in the third inning, and forced several runners out at first base.
“We had a really great season, and even though it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, I wouldn’t trade this team for the world,” Smith said. “I’m very proud of every single one of them.”
Williams said, although they didn’t reach their ultimate goal of winning state, he’s still proud of his team.
“My girls have never given up, they never gave up that game, they kept trying,” Williams said. “They’ve had a great career. ... They’re awesome.”
He said his seniors Strong, Smith, Wright, McKrola and Girvin “cannot be replaced.”
“They’ve left a legacy with the other girls that I hope just continues to get passed down of how to be a leader, how to lead your team, how to be human and have good character, and they’ve done a good job,” Williams said.