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Good luck charms

Rockne Roll/News-Register##Amity players pay homage to “The Bird,” a broken bird toy that has become the Warriors’ good luck charm, during their OSAA Class 3A state playoff first-round game against Blanchet Catholic on Wednesday, May 25, in Amity.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Amity players pay homage to “The Bird,” a broken bird toy that has become the Warriors’ good luck charm, during their OSAA Class 3A state playoff first-round game against Blanchet Catholic on Wednesday, May 25, in Amity.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Amity’s Shayla Pendergraft takes a cut at a pitch during the Warriors’ 12-4 victory over Blanchet Catholic in Wednesday’s OSAA Class 3A state playoff first-round game.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Amity’s Shayla Pendergraft takes a cut at a pitch during the Warriors’ 12-4 victory over Blanchet Catholic in Wednesday’s OSAA Class 3A state playoff first-round game.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Amity right fielder Keeley Graham (3) celebrates her inside-the-park home run against Blanchet Catholic with Scout DeMain (left).
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Amity right fielder Keeley Graham (3) celebrates her inside-the-park home run against Blanchet Catholic with Scout DeMain (left).

For a young Amity Warriors softball team bereft of state playoff experience in recent years, a first round victory in this year’s Class 3A softball state playoffs is not being taken lightly.
Such was the feeling among the players and staff of this No. 6-seeded Warriors team after they prevailed over No. 11-seeded Blanchet Catholic by a score of 12-4 at Amity High School on Wednesday.
“It’s a great feeling for our team to get this win. It’s the first time in a long time that Amity has gotten to the second round of the state playoffs,” said Warriors head coach Patrick O’Leary.
“It was a really good win. We needed to come out ready to play. We got hyped in the dugout and that allowed us to get up on them in the beginning,” added right fielder Keeley Graham.
With the benefit of a prolonged playoff run comes experience for a youthful Warriors squad that features only one senior, third baseman Taylor Van Brunt. Players like freshmen Scout DeMain and Graham, already mainstays in the top of the Warriors’ batting order, can apply this year’s playoff experience to the next three years as they develop and refine their games.
“The youth of this team is huge. We have a good, strong core that will have potential for years to come,” said O’Leary.
That core put on an offensive showcase for the many fans out to support the home side. Fans have been accustomed to the hitting prowess of this lineup, as the Warriors have scored 10 or more runs in 14 games this year. On Wednesday, Amity collected 15 hits against the Cavaliers, and only left five runners on base.
The offense was led by the Warriors’ first two hitters, Graham and junior Shayla Pendergraft, who both had perfect days at the plate.
Graham batting leadoff, used her speed to leg out two triples, while totaling four hits and three runs scored. Pendergraft added three hits of her own to go along with an RBI and a run scored. First baseman LillyAnn Dumler also contributed to the offensive onslaught as she went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Pendergraft is a three-year varsity player and a de facto elder stateswoman on this team, and she sees the team’s resilience as a key to their offensive success. With the Cavaliers jumping out to a two-run lead in the top of the first inning, the Warriors responded quickly in the bottom half as they pushed across three runs.
“We have been trying to ‘win the inning’ all year. So if they score two, we need to score three or more,” said Pendergraft.
When asked about the strong victory over the Cavaliers, pitcher Brittnie Brown points to the experiences this team has shared not only during the softball season, but throughout the rest of the school year.
“We have great chemistry together, because a lot of these girls are together year round. We’ve learned how to win, knowing when to get our mindsets right, and when to get hits,” said Brown.
Brown started the opening playoff game for the Warriors, suffered through a rough first two innings where she allowed three runs, then settled in and pitched two scoreless innings in a row. Brown allowed those three runs on four hits, while adding six strikeouts. Pendergraft came on in relief, pitching three innings of one-run ball to close out the game.
While the Warriors see the victory over the Cavaliers as being a great achievement, the team wants to prolong this season’s magic well into the state playoffs.
“If we play like we did today, and like we did against Dayton last week, I know we can make a run in the playoffs,” said O’Leary.
If the strong season by the Warriors is to continue they will have to beat third-seeded Rainier in the quarterfinals today at Rainier High School, with first pitch coming at 12 a.m. Class 3A state semifinal games will be played Tuesday at times and sites to be determined.

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