The Grant Union/Prairie City Prospector softball team, No. 1 in the state, kept their fans on the edge of their seats in their 4-2 victory over the Lost River Raiders of Klamath Falls in the May 22 second-round state playoff of the OSAA 2A State Championships in John Day.
The Prospectors will host the North Douglas Warriors of Drain in a quarterfinal game at 1 p.m. Friday, May 24, at Seventh Street Complex in John Day.
Both the Prospectors and the Raiders had a dry spell until the fourth inning.
In the top of the fourth, Lost River had two outs. Then a Raider sent a base hit up the middle that center fielder Baylee Combs threw to catcher Hailie Wright, who tagged Raider Makenzie Girtman out at the plate.
“That was a huge momentum shift,” said Grant Union head coach Zach Williams.
Grant Union broke out with four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Wright started things off with a double, followed by Madi McKrola’s single to send Wright home.
Marissa Smith and Kori Jo Girvin hit singles, and Macy Strong hit a double.
The bottom of the fifth was a different story with Lost River center fielder Rianna Forrester catching three fly balls in a row for quick outs.
Grant Union was able to keep Lost River off the scoreboard until the sixth inning, when a couple Prospector errors allowed the Raiders to get in the game with two runs.
That would be as far as the visitors would go, as Grant Union kept a lid on Lost River in the final inning.
The Prospectors beat the Raiders 9-1 early in the season, so the closer game came as somewhat of a surprise to Williams.
“We didn’t do everything wrong obviously, but we made some mistakes that we don’t generally make,” he said.
“I think we were just really jacked up,” he said. “We’ve been playing for this forever.”
He added, “When you’re playing No. 1 vs. 16 and you get to the fourth inning and you’re 0-0 you start to tighten up and get really nervous.”
The fourth inning made the difference in the game as well as Macy Strong’s pitching, he said.
“We got some big hits from the bottom of the lineup, and it was huge,” he said. “We’re excited to get away from here with a win.”
North Douglas is seeded No. 9. They were in second in Special District 3 and finished the regular season 17-1 in league and 25-2 overall.
The Prospectors were champions of Special District 6 with an 11-1 record in league and 22-2 overall.
The winner of the quarterfinal match will advance to the Wednesday, May 29, semifinals. The championship final will be held Friday, May 31, in Keizer at the Salem/Keizer Volcano stadium. Cost of admission for each of the games is $8 for adults and $5 for students (age 5 through senior in high school).