Ashley Cameron laid out and knocked down a hard-hit ball, then made the throw to first for the out from the ground.
It was the first out in the bottom of the seventh, and it lit a fire under the rest of the Hermiston softball team.
Samantha Atilano caught a fly ball in center field for the second out, and Bailee Noland struck out Jamisyn Ford for the third out as the Bulldogs hung on for a 3-2 victory on Friday over host Kennewick in the semifinals of the 3A District 8 tournament.
“That last game was going to come down to who was going to last longer,” Hermiston coach Kate Greenough said. “Ashley’s out was huge. They played defense like they could, and showed Bailee that they had her back.”
The win, coupled with an earlier 8-1 victory over Shadle Park, put the Bulldogs in the District 8 title game at 4 p.m. Wednesday against Southridge. The Suns will host the game.
The Lions had the bottom of their lineup due up in the the seventh, which helped ease Noland’s mind.
“We got their big hitters out the inning before, so I knew I wouldn’t be seeing them,” Noland said.
Cameron said there was no way the ball hit by MaKendrie Fuhriman was going to get past her.
“It was coming down to the end, and I had to lay out to and stop it if we were going to get the win for Bailee,” Cameron said. “I was not going to let that ball go through. They were such good hitters, we needed to play good defense.”
McKenzie Richard reached base with a single, but Atilano made the second out, and Noland helped herself with the strikeout — her fourth — to end the game.
“This is really special to us,” Cameron said. “When our intensity level rises, everyone steps it up.”
The game was scoreless through the first three innings, but in the top of the fourth, the Bulldogs went to work.
Janelle Almaguer singled, and Grace Studer walked with one out to put two runners on base.
With two out, a single by Sydney Stefani sent Almaguer across home plate. A throwing error on the play allowed Studer to score and Stefani to advance to third.
A single by Atilano scored Stefani to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead.
The Lions got two runs back in the bottom of the inning off a two-run home run by Abriel Johnson-Cuello to trim Hermiston’s lead to 3-2.
The Bulldogs played stellar defense the rest of the way, including a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth inning.
“The way these kiddos played is the way we can play,” Greenough said. “That’s how we expect them to play.”
Against Shadle Park, the Bulldogs took an 8-1 lead after three innings and never looked back.
Studer hit a two-run double in the third inning, while Stefani drove in two runs.
Noland pitched a complete game for the win, striking out five.
The Highlanders pulled starter Megan Lohr after the third inning in favor of freshman Chloe Flerchinger, who allowed just two hits the rest of the way. She also struck out six.