Wallowa Valley Outlaws league championship team

We’re number 1! The Wallowa Valley Outlaws combined softball team shows the world they have what it takes to be number one in their league after defeating Nyssa and Vale, 15-5 and 9-8 respectively, at district championships over the weekend.

How do you go from third place to the league title in one weekend? Beat all your opponents at district play and walk off with the trophy.

After their lopsided 14-2 win over Irrigon on Tuesday, May 14 to even get into districts, the Outlaws went to district in Vale, where they steamrolled over Nyssa, 15-5, on Saturday, May 18 and followed with a 9-8 squeaker over formerly undefeated Vale.

Despite what appears an easy game, Coach Gary Gassett said the battle was very close until the later innings. The Outlaws were down 4-2 in the third when Rylin Kirkland hit a two-run rocket out of the park that locked the score at 4-4. Going into the fifth inning, freshman bat hero, Liz Rowley, blasted a two-run shot, her third in two games, for a 6-4 lead. The girls added some insurance with five runs in the sixth to break the game open and added four more in the seventh for kicks.

Coach Gassett said the squad had 17 hits — one of their highest totals of the season.

“We put it on ‘em,” he said. “Everybody in the starting lineup got a hit, and it was our second consecutive game with no errors.”

Hurler Lexie Gassett went the distance for the Outlaws. The senior scattered five earned runs on 11 hits while chalking up a strikeout and a free pass while throwing only 78 pitches.

Claire Farwell went 2 for 4 with a double and three runs scored while Gassett helped her cause with a 2 for 4 plate performance while scoring three runs. Freshman batmeister, Rowley, went 3 for 4 with five RBIs from her homer and a two-run double. Kirkland was 1 for three with two RBIs on her homer and two runs scored. Samantha McFarland was 3 for 5 with two RBIs and a run scored while Aysia Salim was 2 for 5 with a double and two RBIs and two runs scored.

The 9-8 victory versus undefeated Vale proved even more exciting. The game started on an ominous note when Gassett, in her second start of the day, took a monster line drive to the chest.

“She was down for a while,” said father and coach, Gary Gassett. “We didn’t know how badly hurt she was.” The coach had Gassett switch places with centerfielder Liz Rowley.

Rowley pitched the rest of the game for the win. The freshman fanned eight while handing out seven free passes and allowed seven earned runs. “She did a tremendous job,” Coach Gassett said.

Vale led the Outlaws 1-0 after two innings, but in the third, the Outlaws scored four to make it 4-1. The loud bat of McFarland doubled home two runs and Rowley cracked in two runs with a single. Vale tied the game in their half of the frame. The fourth inning saw the Outlaws adding two runs and after five innings the Outlaws led 6-5.

The Outlaws added another run in the sixth when Kirkland singled in Gassett for a 7-5 lead. But Vale scored two in their half to even score at 7-7. With two outs in the seventh inning, Aysia Salim singled while Ella Anderson walked. Claire Farwell’s bat exploded and doubled the two runners home for a 9-7 lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, Rowley struck out the first hitter, but the next hitter launched a triple while a single brought her home. With the tying run now at first with one out and the third and fourth hitters at the plate and on deck, respectively, Coach Gassett didn’t know what to expect. The third hitter pounded a scorching line drive that McFarland caught at first base and doubled off the runner.

“Oh my God, I think we won!” Gassett said to assistant coach, Andy Plew.

Farwell’s bat spoke volumes for the sophomore as she went 3 for 4 with a double, triple, and three RBIs along with two runs scored. Despite the chest injury, Gassett went 2 for 5 with RBI and a run scored while reliable Rowley went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Kirkland was 2 for 3 with a double, a run scored and RBI. McFarland went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs. The Outlaws laced 14 hits in the game.

In his final comments on the seventh inning, Coach Gassett said, “It was one of those innings it happened so quickly. I don’t think McFarland knew what happened. “

The Outlaws play their first state playoff game at home versus Yamhill-Carlton on Wednesday, May 22.

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