EUGENE — Through Clatskanie’s playoff run — and its season as a whole — one word was the center of everything: Discipline.
Discipline in the field. Discipline in the box. Discipline on the practice field and discipline in the batting cage. It buoyed the Tigers to an undefeated regular season, a No. 1 seed in the playoffs and a spot in the 3A title game.
It also got Clatskanie the all-important blue trophy as OSAA state champions. After an uncharacteristic defensive inning in which the No. 2 Dayton Pirates scored four runs, turning Clatskanie’s 3-1 lead into a 5-3 deficit, discipline reset the Tigers. They scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth and three runs in the bottom of the sixth to pull away for a 10-5 win, claiming its first softball state title in school history and Clatskanie’s second girls state title this school year after it won the girls basketball state title in March.
“It’s kind of hard to explain,” Shelby Blodgett said. “You wouldn’t ever really think about it. It’s a great feeling. You grow up wanting to win a state title and to have two in the same year is something you can’t take for granted”
It can be hard to reset in such an important game. It can be hard to forget a bad inning, to shake off mistakes that jeopardize a — to this point — a nearly perfect season.
But Clatskanie did. Bad decisions in the infield were forgotten. Too-quick at-bats were flushed. And the Tigers overcame an old nemesis, a team that had beaten them 10-0 in last year’s semifinals.
All because of discipline.
“We just relied on our skills, and that’s what brought us back,” Trinity Hamm said.
“We just told ourselves, ‘Stick to our plan, be disciplined, patient, base hits, that’s all we need,’” Kaity Sizemore said.
Friday’s game, under the hot Eugene sun at Jane Sanders Stadium on the campus of the University of Oregon, started well enough.
Shelby Blodgett notched a couple of strikeouts in the top of the first, then Alexis Smith parked a Maddie Fluke fastball over the right field fence, aided by the hot air and outward-blowing wind, to put Clatskanie up 1-0 and lift the dugout.
“It’s gets you going, it really does,” Blodgett said. “You can’t help but get crazy on it. It keeps you going.”
Blodgett went clean through the second, as well, battling some control issues but still managing to record the first six outs of the ballgame.
Clatskanie tripled its lead in the bottom of the second. Sizemore singled to start, then moved to third on a one-out single and error in right field off the bat of Kami Harrison.
That brought up catcher Hamm who, despite hitting eighth, has been one of Clatskanie’s most consistent hitters in the playoffs.
She hit a bullet into the right center gap. It skipped across the artificial turf and got all the way to the fence, giving both Sizemore and Harrison time to score.