It may have taken 10 innings, but West Linn softball’s stunning postseason run lives for another two days as the No. 27 Lions upset No. 11 Tualatin on Wednesday afternoon in a 5-3 contest.
West Linn has turned into the most unlikely member of the state quarterfinals, as the Lions entered the postseason with a 7-18 record. West Linn opened the season seemingly unable to get anything positive going, losing 17 of their first 18 games.
Everything changed for the Lions on April 28, with an upset win over Canby. After getting the big win, West Linn just kept rolling with wins over Tualatin, Lakeridge and Oregon City, and taking No. 1-ranked Tigard to the limit in a 5-4 loss.
Since opening the season with a 1-17 record, the Lions are 8-1 and find themselves in the final eight teams in the Class 6A playoffs. The Lions will play No. 3 Oregon City on Friday in the quarterfinals.
Junior first baseman Courtney Williams said the Lions had to go through a serious attitude adjustment midway through the season.
“We really came together. We had some team changes and I think it made us stronger,” Williams said. “We’ve kind of been through a lot this season.”
With the Lions sitting at 1-17 midway through the season, Williams said the team was going out and looking to have fun playing softball again.
“I think we stopped worrying about the wins or the losses and we just started having fun,” she said. “And it just took off from there.”
Courtney Williams was dynamite for West Linn on both sides of the ball. The junior first baseman gave the Lions the go-ahead runs in the top of the 10th inning on a two-RBI blooper out to right field.
Williams also posted a highlight play on the defensive side of the ball. She ended the bottom of the seventh inning with a diving catch as Tualatin’s Alexis McMurray popped the ball up awkwardly on the first base line.
West Linn didn’t waste any time in Wednesday’s game. Rylee Gaustad hit a lead-off double on the opening pitch of the game and was sent home on a triple by Ava Sin at the next at-bat. Sin would score on an RBI single by Jenna Wheeler.
Tualatin immediately responded with RBI singles by both Kailyn Engels and Ariel Chanez tying the game up at 2-2.
After several scoreless innings, Tualatin took its only lead of the game with an RBI single by Renie Strahn in the bottom of the fifth inning.
But in the top of the sixth inning, West Linn came back as a single by Rebecca Gomez scored Cydney Hess.
The game would remain tied until Williams’ two-RBI single in the top of the tenth inning.
Tualatin threatened to come back in the bottom of the tenth inning. With a runner starting on second base (an international extra-innings rule), Tualatin was able to load the bases with a walk and a missed tag at third base on a routine ground ball. But shortstop Hess caught a short pop fly and was able to quickly throw the ball to third base for a quick double play. The game ended on a routine ground ball to second base for the final out.
“I could not be more proud of my team,” Williams said about the key defensive plays made down the stretch. “It is so much fun to watch them play. It’s the best part.”
Addison Sonora pitched all 10 innings for the Lions, allowing 12 hits, walking two and striking out two. Tualatin’s Camille Schmitz pitched all 10 innings, allowing nine hits, walking three and striking out four.
Tualatin’s season ends with an 18-8 record.