By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Pirates in state semifinals

Dayton plays at 5 p.m. today vs. Santiam Christian at home.

Willamina (15-9) leadoff hitter Sydney France took two pitches and grounded out. After that at bat, the rain caused play to stop for half an hour. It took Dayton (23-3) another 30 minutes to get the field back into playing condition.

When play resumed, Pirates pitcher Jamie Chenea struck out the side to end the top of the first inning.

Dayton grabbed a one-run lead in the bottom half of the first inning. From then on, the Bulldogs were unable to respond.

“The rain really messed things (the field conditions) up,” Dayton coach Rob Umbenhower said. “We didn’t play our best game (defensively). But we held them scoreless, so it was good enough for a win.”

Dayton catcher Cooper Ringnalda gave the Pirates their 1-0 lead on a deep home run to left-center field.

Ringnalda said she knew she went after a pitch that was out of the strike zone but took a chance on it anyway.

“I watched the first pitch go by and it was outside,” Ringnalda recalled of her at bat. “The second one came and it was high. I was thinking about laying off the high one, but I just told myself I was just going to go for it.”

Ringnalda said she wasn’t worried about where the pitch was or if she made an out. She said her biggest worry was that she broke her teammate Shelby Byerly’s bat on the swing.

The Pirates added their second run in the second inning. Michaela Shouldis led the inning off with a double. Teddi Hop brought Shouldis in with an RBI double.

In all, Dayton outhit the Bulldogs seven to three. Umbenhower said runners left in scoring positions were and are a concern for the Pirates despite the shutout.

Dayton pitcher Jamie Chenea had a near-perfect pitching performance. She gave up no runs on three hits and three walks.

Chenea dominated the Willamina hitters despite an hour layoff. She finished with 13 strikeouts.

“The weather helped us out a little bit (after the rain),” Chenea said. “Everyone stayed focused which helped a lot.”

The long delay appeared to have no effect on Chenea’s confidence as the game resumed play. Chenea said she made sure to stretch and throw during the delay. When she picked up in the second inning she faced three hitters and ended the inning with three strikeouts. Chenea gave up her first hit in the third inning, a double by France. Chenea still struck out the side to end that inning.

“Even with the weather she pitched well,” Umbenhower said. “I wasn’t worried. She knew what she needed to do (during the layoff), and she did well.”

Chenea went right back out in the fourth inning and struck out the side. It was her toughest inning of the afternoon.

She began the inning giving up back-to-back walks to Kari Steere and Kyra Toney but struck out Cheyanne Fasana, Jill Coblentz and Destiny Osborn in order.

The Pirates put the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth inning. Dayton brought six hitters to the plate and scored two runs. Hop led the inning off with her second double of the afternoon. Hop scored on a RBI single from the next batter, Sydney Van Noy, for the 3-0 lead. Van Noy stole second and third and scored on a pass ball.

“I’m really proud of our offense,” Ringnalda said. “We’ve improved so much throughout the season, and I’m just proud of this team.”

Kaydi Milton took the loss for Willamina. She allowed four runs on seven hits and two errors. France, Sami Grant and Kyra Toney had the three Bulldog hits.

“I’m proud of our girls,” Willamina softball coach Scott Vang said. “They finished the season well and deserved to be in this game.”

The Pirates beat Bandon 18-1 in the first round of the playoffs. Notes: Ringnalda went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Hop finished with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored. Sydney Van Noy, Stephanie Jacks and Byerly each had a hit in the Dayton win.

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