By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

Seven-inning stretch

Sydni Dix didn’t need to wait for the ping of the bat to know: she needed to move fast.

Trailing Tualatin 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday night, the McMinnville softball team attempted to execute a hit-and-run with no outs and Dix, having drawn a walk, three bases away from extra softball. Kaleigh Scanlon fouled off the hit-and-run pitch from Timberwolves pitcher Emily Sorem.

The field umpire ruled that Dix jumped for second base before the ball left Sorem’s hand. Mac’s freshman third baseman was called out on the play.

“You’ve got to get a good jump,” Grizzlies coach Courtney Seifert said. “She had too good a jump.”

Scanlon walked and Marina Jorgenson singled to breathe additional life into McMinnville, but Sorem held the Grizzlies at bay with a strikeout and a foulout to seal the 1-0 victory for Tualatin at the McMinnville softball field.

The Timberwolves (11-3, 3-0 Class 6A Pacific Conference) scored their only run in the top of the seventh inning when Joslyn Gastiaburu brought Beth Fanger home with an RBI single.

“We held them to the seventh,” said Grizzlies center fielder Jacinda Swiger, who had the other two of Mac’s three hits on the evening. “Honestly, we feel like we could beat anyone.”

Strong sentiment, but not without support. After an up-and-down preseason, McMinnville (7-7, 1-2 Pacific) gained additional confidence going toe-to-toe with the No. 3 team in the OSAA Class 6A power rankings.

Pitching and defense gave the Grizzlies a shot at an upset.

Scanlon allowed seven hits and walked four in the losing effort, but 10 of the 11 base runners were left on at innings’ end.

“She did a good job keeping herself in the game mentally,” Seifert said of Scanlon. “It’s a battle, as a freshman.”

Scanlon had plenty of help behind her. Freshman shortstop Sydnee Reeser was involved in seven of the 21 possible putouts, including a grounder fielded deep in the hole at shortstop to get the first out of the fifth inning.

“She killed it today,” Swiger said. “I know that she feels as if she’s been struggling lately, so it’s good for her.”

Swiger had a game-changing defensive play of her own in the fifth inning, making an over-the-shoulder catch on a fly ball by Tualatin’s Bailey Marshall with two outs and two runners on base.

“Huge,” Seifert said. “When it’s a 0-0 ballgame, you have to have those.”

It was an emotional uplift for Swiger, who is playing out the season with a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. Swiger has scheduled knee surgery for after the season.

“Being a senior, I want to make those good plays,” she said. “This game, I really came out strong.

“It’s senior year. I want to go out with a bang.”

Ultimately, Sorem silenced the Grizzlies’ bats with nine strikeouts. Three Mac runners advanced into scoring position, all in different innings.

That part, the Mac players feel, should be taken in the context of the whole game.

“We’re more excited than we’d normally be because we haven’t played our best lately,” Swiger said.

“This is us. We feel like we’re back.”

McMinnville played at Glencoe on Monday. The Grizzlies host Forest Grove on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

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