The Grant County Wildfire 16U softball team finished out their summer season just like they had hoped in a round robin tournament in La Grande Aug. 1, handily defeating Union County Lightning 10-1 and shutting out Central Oregon Crossfire 7-0.
“While the girls will move on and obviously play together again in high school, this was basically the end of Wildfire as we have known it,” Wildfire head coach Zach Williams said.
Williams said the 16U team played in four tournaments this summer.
In their first tournament, the Nampa Shakedown, June 19-20, the girls blanked the Boise Storm 20-0 in their first game, fell to the Idaho Racers 19-3 in game two and bounced in the third game, beating Nampa Pride 17-4.
With a 2-1 record in pool play, the Wildfire ranked in the top half of the 16 teams and fell to the Idaho Crossfire, the team that won the tournament.
Williams said the team had the lead heading into the fourth inning “but ran out of fresh arms on the mound” to close it out.
In Pendleton June 27-28, the Wildfire went into the tourney 1-2 in pool play, beating UC Lightning 7-5 in the first outing, but then falling to Pendleton’s OE fast-pitch team, 11-7, in game two and then again to Portland Rise, 17-8.
Williams said the girls notched a huge win they took down the top-seeded Vancouver Rampage, 11-8.
Drewsey Williams pitched a really good game, the coach said. He said the team played solid defense behind her.
“We hit the ball really well, from the top and to the bottom of the lineup” he said.
Williams said the four girls in the bottom of the lineup were seven for 11 in plate appearances.
In the championship game, Williams said, the team ran out of pitching and fell to Pendleton’s OE fast-pitch, 23-10.
The girls traveled to Fruitland, Idaho, July 10-11 and won two out of their first three games, beating Idaho Crossfire’s Graham team 4-3, but then falling to their Davies team 4-3. In the third game the girls won 11-3 against the Boise Storm.
The girls lost the semifinal game 9-8 to the Idaho Racers, a team that, Williams said, are in the championships in nearly every tournament.
“The girls were really amped up, they had played a great game and just couldn’t hold on, Williams said. “The coach for the Racers approached our girls after the game and told them how impressed he was with them and told them that he would love to get to play them more.”
Williams said there are many “amazing” things that have come from this team, from the camaraderie and family mentality, to learning to genuinely care about their teammates.
“They weren’t always successful, but they have had so many opportunities that it will serve them well as they move on to the next stage of their softball careers,” he said.