For the first time in the county’s little-league history, the junior softball girls team, managed by Shane Kirkland, won the state championship after a 15-0 blowout of Klamath Falls on its own home turf on Sunday, July 7.
The Cubs traveled down to Klamath Falls early last week, first playing Klamath falls on July 6, downing their opponents 19-9, with a team batting average of .642 and a .667 on-base percentage.
Wallowa Valley was down one run going into the fourth, but exploded for eight runs to take a commanding lead and added two more runs in the sixth and three in the seventh for insurance and the victory.
Pitchers Aimee Meyers and Alex Rowley combined for seven strikeouts on the day.
Later in the day saw WV taking on Redmond and squeaking by with an 11-10 victory. Coach Shane Kirkland said the team had an off hitting day, but they still batted .441 and had a .529 on-base percentage.
The game proved a see-saw battle with Redmond eventually scoring 5 runs in the top of the seventh, providing a bleak outlook for the Cubs ... for a while. Maci Marr had a key base hit followed by Rowley with another.
Two walks forced a run and the top of the order came up. After an out, Meyers came to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a screaming rocket to left center that scored three and won the game for the Cubs.
Kirkland noted that both pitchers struggled at times, but when the chips were down, the Cubs infield turned their second 6-4-3 double play of the tournament to rally the ladies. Umpires told Kirkland they’d only seen one double play at that level all year. Kirkland also noted that Sydney Hopkins came off the bench and smacked two key base hits.
The championship game saw the Cubs again facing Klamath Falls and they proceeded to pound them mercilessly, 15-0 for the title. Hitting proved the decisive factor with the Cubs garnering a .685 slugging percentage and a .710 on base percentage.
Meyers and Cooper Knave each batted 1.000 for the game while three other hitters batted .750. The District 5 president awarded Meyers the player of the game trophy for her hitting and pitching performance in which she fanned six and walked only one.
It was the first trip to Klamath Falls for shortstop Sophie Moeller, who said this was the farthest any team had gotten that she’d played for. She added she wasn’t even thinking state championship when the season started.
“I didn’t think we’d make it past District,” she said.
Moeller said she enjoyed her time in Klamath particularly playing on turf, although the weather was very hot. She also said she enjoyed playing on a good team with good coaches. Her favorite memory was the two double-plays she turned.
Nervousness was one of the most challenging parts of state play for her and her teammates, according to the shortstop. Her favorite part for herself was playing her position.
“Making a diving stop at short was a good thing for me because having everyone cheer loud for me is a good feeling,” she said.
Coach Kirkland said that he and the other coaches set out at the beginning of the year to accomplish only one thing: To coach discipline and fundamentals that would deliver young ladies ready to play ball at the high school level.
“I would say we are accomplishing that!” he said.
The Cubs next travel to the Western Regional Junior Softball Tourney hosted in Tucson, Ariz. on July 17-25th.
“The competition will be fierce”, he said. “We plan to work all the next week and have ourselves physically and mentally ready to play.”