Westview softball beats West Salem, advances to second round
Would it really be all that big of a shock if No. 11 Westview makes a deep run into the Class 6A softball playoffs?
Who would be truly surprised if the Wildcats end up facing Sunset in an all Metro League semifinal?
Those who know Westview well have seen this story before. The Wildcats' style of play is made for the postseason. They're groomed for the big moments by head coach Ronda McKenzie. Rooted in fundamentals and making the right play under the tensest of pressure, Westview performs.
Yet another case in point came when Westview kicked off its playoff trek with a 3-1 win over West Salem in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs on May 20. The Wildcats did the little things in textbook fashion that led to the game-changing plays. As a result, the Wildcats, with just a few select seniors on the team, will play No. 6 Glencoe in the second round of the 6A playoffs on Wednesday.
"I think we just had the will to want it, we wanted it more than them," Westview senior second baseman Taylor Alto said. "I think it showed hitting, attitude-wise, all of it. Every victory in the playoffs is big no matter who the team is. I believe in this team a lot. We all gel together. We're very determined and motivated. We're not cocky, we're prepared."
Sophomore ace Julia Jordan was exceptional, allowing just a run in the first inning but nothing more the rest of the way. The southpaw allowed just one hit and struck out eight in a complete game victory, one that came with its hurdles but was overcome by an underclassman who's starting to revel in the pressure cooker of the postseason.
"It's so high pressure, that's for sure," Jordan said. "When it's a close game, I have to want it more than them and show that. Every game I learn something and every game I'm getting better with pressure."
Jordan was also a force in the box, bringing in a pair of two-out RBIs, one that tied the game in the third and another that gave herself a 3-1 lead in the fifth. The lefty's first RBI doesn't happen, however, without the never-say-die attitude of freshman Isabel Carattini. Standing on third with two outs, Carattini tried to make a break for home as Maddie Curaming hit a sharp grounder to second. West Salem's infield smartly threw home, hoping to nab Carattini at the dish, putting the young freshman in a precarious position between the bases. Yet, Carattini fought for her life with two outs, forcing a back and forth pickle that lasted three throws and resulted in Carattini diving head first into the final attempt at third and breaking up the relay with her right hand. Then Jordan brought her home with an infield single to tie it 1-1 with two outs.
Carattini's fight was one that won't show up in the box score, but it underlines Westview's competitive nature.
"We took what we could in the moment instead of thinking ahead or playing in the past," Jordan said. "We really played pitch-by-pitch."
Further, in the bottom of the fourth, Alto doubled with one out and moved to third on a sacrifice fly by Emma Antich to right. And with two outs, that subtle move was significant as freshman Zoe Zimmer pulled a hard hit an RBI single to center that gave Westview a 2-1 lead. If Alto is on second, maybe Zimmer's single would've been too well struck to score her senior teammate. But because Antich moved her teammate over with a great piece of self-sacrificing hitting that wasn't recorded in the scorebook, Zimmer's hammer shot broke the tie and gave Westview a 2-1 lead. And considering Westview's subsequent hitter struck out after Zimmer, those interplays were huge.
They gave Jordan a lead to work with and the lefty didn't relent. With a runner on first in the fifth, Carattini fielded a tough chopper and sagely fired an accurate strike to Alto at second for the force out. Cecilia Ainslie and Carly Carraher ran down sky-high fly balls, one in foul ground in left in the third, the other just feet from the fence in right in the sixth.
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