(This article was originally published on JMcDonaldMedia.com)
By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– Sometimes all you need is that one lucky break to get back into your rhythm.
Entering the sixth inning of their 5-4 win over North Medford in the 6A State Playoff Opener, McNary were down 4-1 to the Black Tornados. North Medford found those offensive bounces when they needed to build the lead against their host Monday afternoon that resulted in hits and more importantly runs on the board.
There was a sense of nerves and tightness in their playing style that was very unorthodox of the Celtics that helped them to their second league title in three years and their first in the first year of the Mountain Valley Conference in 2019.
“Today we were uptight and we thought we had to do too much. When we play our own game is when we hit the ball. If we go out and we’re playing our game, no one can stop us,” said McNary’s Taylor Ebbs, who drove in the first Celtic run of the game off a single in the third. “Our coaches were uptight so that made us uptight. When they started to calm down a little bit, we were able to calm down and bring out the win.”
Ebbs made some defensive plays from her shortstop position that helped keep North Medford from doing further damage one the board. Alexa Cepeda made a nice little catch in center field that ended the sixth inning that saved possibly two Tornado runs from scoring from second and third.
Cepeda, a Junior, sat in the dugout as Faith Danner and her lineup in front of her found ways to load up the bases with two outs on the board. When she got up to bat, she fought hard for her pitch.
She admits that she was nervous sure with the game on the line and bases loaded, but on the ninth pitch of the at-bat she found her pitch that she sent out to left field for a three-run double to hand McNary a 5-4 lead entering the seventh inning.
“I’m still a little shaky,” said Cepeda of the hit. “I was just surprised. I wasn’t hitting that good at the beginning of the game but then it really felt good to finally get one.”
Cepeda went 2-for-3 with three RBI’s in the win. The McNary Center Fielder made the first out of the inning as part of a 1,2,3 inning to set up a Wednesday match-up with the third-seed Sheldon Irish.
“We’re going to come out to practice tomorrow and practice very hard and hopefully do a great job,” said Cepeda.
North Medford’s Kyleigh Lopez went 4-for-4 and Shahar Miles went 3-for-4 batting. The Black Tornado’s Lauren Barry drove in two RBI’s.
Hannah Ebner was the other Celtics player who drove in an RBI, an RBI single two batters prior to Cepeda’s two-run double.