(This article was originally published on JMcDonaldMedia.com)
By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.— It looks as if it’ll might be a crash course for the postseason for both Gervais and Santiam when the season ends next week.
The Cougars, who haven’t been in the State Bracket since 2008 and had some successful teams around 2011 were tied for second in the 2A/1A Special District 2 standings at 8-1 with the Wolverines. Santiam reached the postseason last season after not having a team in 2014 and were Independent in 2015.
The opening game of Monday’s doubleheader between the two squads were going back-and-forth.
“It’s the battle of the Seniors, they got six and we’ve got six and who wants it more is what it’s coming down to,” said Gervais Head Coach Kevin Davidson. “I had a feeling coming in that this was going to be one of those games. They scored, we scored, they scored, we scored. It was back-and-forth.”
The Wolverines jumped out 2-0 before Gervais brought two home off an error in the top of the fourth inning. Santiam regained the lead when Cami Duncan scored off a pass ball in the bottom half of the fourth, the Wolverines were the home team to start the doubleheader and the Cougars were the home team for the second game.
Gervais saw Abby Saalfeld hit a lead off triple to start the fifth before Jazmine Fernandez drove her home to tie the game at three with a sacrifice fly on the next at-bat. The Cougars Veronica Esquivel picked up six of her seven Game One strikeouts in the opening four innings of the game.
But the bottom of the fifth inning proved to be the difference maker in the doubleheader opener when Santiam began to find their groove offensively and their defense slowed down Gervais’ offense over the final three innings of the game.
“It’s just, when you hit it to someone it’s apart of the game. You always hope for those gappers,” said Davidson as the Cougars finished with six hits in the tough 9-3 game.
The Wolverines took a 5-3 lead off a McKenzie Dodge two-run shot and a 7-3 lead when McKenzie Weaver brought home Maddison Hicks on a triple before scoring herself off and throwing error to swing momentum in favor of Santiam.
Weaver, who pitched both games Monday striking out three in 14 innings, said seeing the bats roll like they did was a reliving site entering the second game.
“It was really reliving because it was very stressful. We were tied and ‘come on we got to go’. Then once we got it going, it was like, ‘alright we got this’,” said Weaver. “We kept it going and this is the team we know who we’re are and we played like we knew how to play.
“It was very nice knowing that we got it over and being able to do what we needed to do and now we just have to go into the second game and do the same thing.”
In the second game, Maddie Forste hit a inside the park Grand Slam in the second inning to help give Santiam a then 5-1 cushion in the Wolverines 12-6 doubleheader sweep of Gervais Monday.
Esquivel added four more strikeouts to her total as the Senior finished with 11 strikeouts in 11 innings of work. Marisol Ayala added four strikeouts in relief for the Cougars. Alexis Luna hit two triples in the second game. Luna, Bella Vasquez and Abby Saalfeld each had three hits each.
Dodge had five hits in the double header as did Brittany Grenbemer for Santiam.