McMinnville softball looks to hit postseason on a roll
The Grizzlies (6-15, 3-8) are mired in a four-game losing streak after facing four of the five teams above them in the Pacific Conference standings. The latest two losses were vs. two of the best in the state: a 9-1 loss Monday at home vs. No. 6-ranked Tualatin and an 11-1 loss Wednesday at No. 2-ranked Glencoe.
The Grizzlies play at home Friday vs. Forest Grove (15-6, 7-4), which is currently third place in the conference. In a season with few substantial markers of progress (read, wins), McMinnville Coach Courtney Seifert said the coaching staff and the players are making their goals more realistic.
“We’re working toward a goal,” Seifert said, “and we’re probably not going to achieve it this year, but you’re laying the foundation and pushing for next season and where we would like to be in the next couple of years.
“You have to celebrate the small victories and not get upset because getting upset only makes it worse.”
Monday vs. Tualatin, the Grizzlies had an easy goal to shoot for: don’t get no-hit. Again. The last time Mac faced Tualatin on April 12, the Grizzlies didn’t reach base.
“Goals going into Monday were to hit the ball better than we did last time, to have base runners every inning and play better defense,” Seifert said. “Looking at the big picture, I think they did play pretty well. The score doesn’t show that but that happens sometimes.”
The Grizzlies had three hits. Makayla Khatewoda, Sam Hensley and Allyson Ulbricht each had one hit, and the Grizzlies even scored once in the fourth inning on a nice diving slide by pinch runner Elizabeth Sweigart.
Still, Tualatin poured it on. The Timberwolves scored three runs in the third inning, two in the fourth, two more in the fifth and three runs in the sixth inning.
Wednesday vs. Glencoe, Mac managed one hit, but it was a solo-home run by Mackenzie Davis.
Seifert, who is finishing up her first season as the head coach, said she’s seeing progress in the second half of conference play, but the Grizzlies have dropped some games they thought would be more competitive.
“We dropped games to Tigard and Newberg that were a little bit painful because we beat Newberg the first time around and went 4-2 with Tigard the first time around,” she said. “Those were teams that we felt were beatable. Didn’t work out that way.”
The Grizzlies have been trying to be realistic as to where they are at this year, but there is still hope Mac can get hot like it did at the end of last season. The Grizzlies surprised the No. 1-seeeded team in the tournament in the first round last year to advance, and with four games left in this regular season, Mac can do it again.
“We have Century and Hillsboro next week then the play-in game,” Seifert said. “Potentially we could get those four games and roll into the first round. … That’s what we’re going to try and do.”
The Grizzlies celebrated their four seniors Monday prior to the start of the Tualatin game. Usually the ceremony takes place during the last home game of the season, but Mac has two left on its schedule (today vs. Forest Grove and May 9 vs. Hillsboro). Seifert said Layne Pendleton’s mom is going to be out of town next week, and to accommodate everyone, the team decided to move the day up by a week.
The four seniors are: Pendleton, Davis, Allyson Ulbricht, and Lauren Ulbricht
“They decided that it’s not as sad because it’s not their last game,” Seifert said, “and they can have more fun with it.”