By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Rainier sinks Pirates

It put the best two teams in 3A softball in the finals in Friday’s OSAA Class 3A state championship game at the Softball Complex on the campus of Oregon State University. The No. 2-ranked Rainier Columbians proved to be the more powerful team in their 9-3 win over the No. 1-ranked Dayton Pirates to be crowned the 3A state softball champions.

Rainier was in the state championship game for the first time. The Columbians, who beat Blanchet 6-3 in Tuesday’s 3A state semifinals, have been in at least the semifinal round the past two years.

“How many teams are at home looking and wishing they could be here?” Dayton coach Rob Umbenhower said. “No one wants to be on this side, but at the beginning everyone wants to be here.

“We got good experience,” Umbenhower said. “We’re happy to be here. You’re looking at sophomores, freshmen and juniors, one senior. We’ll be back.”

If the regular season said anything about the rivalry that’s developed between the Columbians and Pirates, it’s that the state championship game should have been an exciting one. Dayton split a doubleheader in April with Rainier, winning the first game 1-0 and losing the second 11-8 in 10 innings.

Prior to the state championship game against Rainier, Umbenhower said the series with the Columbians earlier this year reminded him of Dayton’s close 1-0 win over Santiam Christian in Tuesday’s 3A state semifinal game.

Despite the emotional loss in the 3A state championship game, Dayton players tried to make the best of the loss by looking towards the Pirates’ bright future.

“We have so many sophomores, we have about seven, and we had about three freshmen come in,” said sophomore catcher Cooper Ringnalda, who was 1-for-3 with an RBI. “We’ve all played together since we were eight and under. I remember us as toddlers running around with little balls in the backyard, and we’re swinging with our dads.”

Ringnalda said that once her (sophomore) class, which includes Stephanie Jacks, Cassi Hill, Alexa Rubio, Shelby Byerly, Sierra Ray and Sydney Van Noy arrived at the high school level, she had no doubt the Pirates would be bound for more state championship games.

“I knew that once we got to high school we would make it to the championship,” Ringnalda said. “I knew we were going to make it from our freshman year on. We didn’t make it last year, but we went to the semifinals and we played a really tough team. I’m not surprised about how far we’ve been.”

The 3A state championship game also brought a brief, but special family moment for Dayton. In the fifth inning, Ringnalda’s RBI single cut Dayton’s deficit to 4-3. Ringnalda advanced to second after a passed ball, when Umbenhower sent in a pinch runner for Ringnalda. It was senior Paige Van Noy.

Van Noy had missed the entire winter and spring season for medical reasons but was in uniform for the first time since May 29, 2012. She had been a team manager and scoreboard operator during the regular season this year.

She came in for Ringnalda sporting the No. 5 jersey (she was No. 2 last year). Van Noy was unable to cross home plate, though, as the next two Pirate hitters struck out and grounded out to end the inning.

Her sister, sophomore Sydney Van Noy, said despite her 3-for-4 day at the plate, having her sister in the state championship game was the biggest highlight for her.

“I’m just really excited that I got to play with my sister,” Van Noy said. “And I got to play with girls like Jamie (Chenea) and Lexah (Oliveira) because we’re all close like a family.”

The Pirates were tabbed OSAA’s No. 1-ranked team after they started the season 10-1. After Dayton split the series with the Columbians in April, Umbenhower called Rainier’s pitcher Kylee Crape the “best pitcher in the league.”

She showed why in Friday’s win.

Crape allowed two earned runs on seven hits and no walks. Crape struck out 11 Dayton hitters en route to the win.

“I played with Kylee in the past years and she’s got a really good curveball, and when she misses she misses big. And she never misses,” Van Noy said. “We just didn’t pick up on that very well today. Got to give credit where credit’s due and she did a really good job today.”

When the game was over, with a dugout full of heartbroken players, Umbenhower assured his team that without a doubt, the Dayton Pirates will be back in the 3A state championship game.

“We’re young, we’ll be back,” Umbenhower said. “I’ve only got one senior that’s played the whole season that started. The other two seniors on the roster were out most of the season for medical reasons. We’re young. We’ll be back.”

As an equally young team last season, the Pirates surpassed expectations placed on their youth by making the 3A state semifinals. Dayton lost 10-5 in the semifinals vs. Blanchet Catholic.

Ringnalda said the loss in the state championship, despite Dayton’s 2-0 lead, will be difficult to get over. She said that all the team can do is be excited about its potential for the 2014 season.

“We’ll cry about this one. We’re going out for pizza where we’ll be able to tell jokes and talk about our fun moments,” Ringnalda said. “Next year we walk in with seven junior starters. We have a great freshman, Kylee Hill, coming up.

“With her it’s going to feel like eight and under again. We’re going to come back stronger and harder, and next year we’re going to win.”

In the early going Friday, it was the Pirates who looked to be too much for Rainier. Van Noy led off the bottom of the first inning with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third and the throw to try to pick her off at third went wide, allowing her to score for the 1-0 lead.

Van Noy led off the third inning with a double, moved to third on a bunt by Ringnalda and Cassi Hill hit into a fielder’s choice to score Van Noy for the 2-0 lead.

Rainier tied the game at two in the fourth inning on an error and a sacrifice RBI from Hydee Coffman. The Columbians got the go-ahead runs on a two RBI single by Sarah Probasco in the fifth inning for the 4-2 lead.

Dayton narrowed the gap in the bottom of the fifth inning. Teddi Hop led the inning off with an infield single and Van Noy followed that with a fielder’s choice that got Hop out at third, but the out allowed Van Noy to reach second.

Ringnalda hit a single back up the middle to score Van Noy to cut the Rainier lead to 4-3. The errors for the Pirates began to accumulate in the sixth inning. Two infield errors allowed five Columbian base runners to cross home plate to cushion Rainier’s lead to 9-3.

Rainier senior pitcher Kylee Crape struck out 11 Pirates, allowed seven hits and no walks in the win. Dayton’s lone senior starter, Jamie Chenea, took the loss in her final game in a Dayton uniform. Chenea struck out four Columbians, allowed 10 hits and two walks.

Notes: The Pirates softball program has some history with the state championship game.

Dayton played in the state championship game for the fourth time but the first time since 2005. The Pirates won state championships in 2002 and 2003.

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