KEIZER — For the fourth year in a row, the Pendleton 12U softball program won the state championship.
On Wednesday evening, the Pendleton’s 12U All-Star Little League softball team cruised to a 14-0 shutout over Redmond, successfully defending its state championship title. It was the second consecutive win that this lineup has claimed.
“We did this last year with the same group of girls,” coach Scott Wilson said. “There was a lot of pressure on them this year. Everyone expected them to do it again. The girls felt it. They made it look easy. They’re great kids and tremendous athletes — every one of them. I couldn’t be more proud.”
The victory was the second shut out of their state run — the team came in hot after a 16-0 win over East Lane/Sheldon on Monday.
Pendleton may have been slow to start, but no matter — their Redmond rivals had trouble containing them, amassing eight errors by the game’s end.
Following her single, Melanie Boatman rounded two more bases and crossed home on an error at third base to put Pendleton on the board in the top of the first. Bailey Moore singled to score Maddy Lieuallen one inning later, and Madaline Schumacher and Nessa Neveau capitalized on two more Redmond errors for a healthy 4-0 lead by the top of the third.
“We were aggressive on base today,” Wilson said. “We took advantage of some defensive errors when (Redmond) made them. There wasn’t a whole lot of action on the field, but when there was, we did exactly what we needed to do.”
However, the All-Stars really came to life in the fourth.
With two outs on the board, Avery Krighaum and Nessa Neveau scored on two more passed balls, and Neveau, Lieuallen, and Lea Wilson all drove in additional runs as Redmond’s defense struggled to stop the offensive charge.
And Pendleton still wasn’t through, as the team put up five more runs in the following inning that would secure the championship title.
Krighaum and Boatman both singled, and Schumacher walked to load the bases early in the inning. Neveau drew a walk during the following at-bat to send Krighaum home.
Josie Jenness sent a line drive deep into left field, good enough to send two more runs across the plate. Jenness would reach home one at-bat later after Wilson grounded out to first base.
It was the first out Redmond managed for the inning, but it came five runs too late, as Pendleton had already taken an advantage that was too vast to overcome.
Schumacher took to the circle to close the game out in the bottom of the fifth and got two easy strikeouts before Redmond grounded out to Ella Sams at second base, calling the game after five innings.
“This feels great,” Wilson said. “The girls played like state champs.”
The freshly-crowned state champs got three runs each from Schumacher and Neveau. Boatman hit 2-for-3 and scored two runs. Krighaum and Jenness also chipped in two runs each to aid in the blow out.
Kendall Murphy may have handed Redmond their only two hits of the game, but her steady aim knocked down five strikeouts over the first four innings.
“We have a problem that a lot of teams don’t have,” Wilson said. “We have too many good pitchers. It’s a good problem to have.”
And it’s not over for the Pendleton Little Leaguers — the team heads down to San Bernardino, California, on Sunday, July 21 to represent Oregon in the West Regional Tournament.
“We are no longer Pendleton,” Wilson said. “We’re Oregon.”