By Logan Brandon • Logan Brandon • 

No Challengers for Dayton softball

Marcus Larson/News-Register##Dayton senior Kylee Hill (8) hits a bloop single to left field with the bases loaded, scoring two runs, during the Pirates’ 18-0, five-inning victory over Cascade Christian in the OSAA Class 3A softball state quarterfinals.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Dayton senior Kylee Hill (8) hits a bloop single to left field with the bases loaded, scoring two runs, during the Pirates’ 18-0, five-inning victory over Cascade Christian in the OSAA Class 3A softball state quarterfinals.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Dayton softball players congratulate senior Rachael Fluke (22) after she belted a three-run home run in the second inning, giving the Pirates a 7-0 lead.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Dayton softball players congratulate senior Rachael Fluke (22) after she belted a three-run home run in the second inning, giving the Pirates a 7-0 lead.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Dayton starting pitcher Haley Couch delivers a pitch to home plate during the Pirates’ 18-0 playoff victory over Cascade Christian.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Dayton starting pitcher Haley Couch delivers a pitch to home plate during the Pirates’ 18-0 playoff victory over Cascade Christian.

DAYTON – The dominant play of the Dayton Pirates softball team continued last Friday night when they routed the visiting Cascade Christian Challengers by a score of 18-0 in five innings. The matchup came in the quarterfinals of the 2016 OSAA Class 3A state softball playoffs, and the Pirates put together a near-perfect performance at Jim Connelly Field.
Near-perfection is a common theme for the Pirates this season, as their overall record climbed to 26-3 after Friday’s game. Dayton’s current winning streak now stands at a staggering 17 games.
Against the No. 9-seeded Challengers, the home team once again displayed the well-rounded play that has allowed them to rack up a large amount of wins.
The No. 1-seeded Pirates’ offense collected 18 hits, including two home runs, and only left two runners on base. First baseman Racheal Fluke smashed one of those homers, a three-run shot in the second inning that blew the game open. Third baseman Kalina Rojas also hit a three-run home run.
“It felt really good (to hit that home run). My last game was not one of my best, so I came out and got some extra hits after practice. It’s nice to know I got that big hit to get me going again,” said Fluke.
Dayton received production up and down its lineup, which could be expected of a team that produced 18 base knocks. Center fielder Teddi Hop did her job as the table setter at the top of the lineup as she went 3-4 with an RBI and three runs scored. Fluke reached base on all four of her plate appearances as she added a single and two walks to her second inning home run.
Head coach Rob Umbenhower sees a couple of reasons for the big offensive production by his players.
“These girls are coachable, and they work on their technique every day. We are working with them constantly. We can also use our speed well, lay down bunts, and play small ball. As we get deeper into these playoffs where the games become more competitive, we will need the small ball,” said Umbenhower.
While the score line reflected an extreme result for the offense, the pitching of Haley Couch.
Couch, a junior righthander, only had to pitch five innings against Cascade, but in those five innings she showed why she is among the best in the state. Couch struck out nine batters, walked one, and allowed a single hit in the final frame of the game. Couch has not allowed a run in three straight games, including the first two state playoff games.
Couch’s defense behind her, while not seeing many balls put into play, was also strong. No errors were committed by the team, and even when Couch gave up her only hit, Hop backed up her pitcher and threw out the runner at second base.
The only other excitement for the Pirates on defense came in the second inning when Hop sprinted into left field, calling off left fielder Emily Elliot, to make a stretching grab on a flyout.
A quarterfinal victory in the state playoffs might be a cause for celebration for most teams in Oregon, but this result felt like just another step on the way to a repeat 3A state championship for the Pirates.
“We are capable of winning it all. If we get past our next opponent, then anything can happen,” said Umbenhower.
Dayton’s semifinal opponent is No. 4 Pleasant Hill, a team that the Pirates beat twice during the regular season. By virtue of being the top-seeded team in the playoffs, Dayton will play host yet again. The start time for the semifinal is today at 5 p.m. at Jim Connelly Field.
Should the Pirates advance past the Billies, they will greet either No. 3 Rainier or No. 2 Scio in the state softball finals, held at the OSU Softball Complex in Corvallis on Friday.

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