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Comets fall short in state QFs

HILLSBORO — The Crater softball team’s stellar season came down to extra innings Friday in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

After the Comets had rallied to tie the score in the top of the seventh inning, second-seeded Hillsboro was able to get a couple base-runners aboard with no outs and capitalized on a Crater error to come away with a 2-1 victory at Hillsboro High School.

Sixth-seeded Crater (22-6) had faced a one-run deficit since the first inning, when Hillsboro (27-1) took a 1-0 lead by taking advantage of an Comet error. In the top of the seventh, the Comets’ Presley Robison knotted the score after reaching base with a leadoff double over the left fielder’s head and later crossed home plate on Kaila Lee’s push bunt with no outs.

As they had all game, the Comets had a hard time solving Hillsboro ace McKenzie Staub as they were unable to do any further damage in the seventh and were retired in order in the top of the eighth with three straight groundouts.

In the bottom of the eighth, Hillboro’s leadoff hitter Chelsey Kinney was hit by a Hannah Joseph pitch then was sacrifice bunted over to second base. The Spartans’ No. 9 hitter Juliana Raabe tried to get Kinney to third base with another bunt, which was fielded by Crater at third baseman. The subsequent relay throw to second base sailed wide and into right field, allowing Kinney to reach home.

Joseph was excellent throughout, allowing two runs — neither were earned — on four hits, two hit batters, one walk to go with three strikeouts. Her counterpart, Staub, fanned 14 and allowed one earned run.

“Philosophically as coaches we have a tendency to focus on numbers,” said Crater coach Chris Arnold, whose Comets took first in the Midwestern League with a 16-0 record. “These girls go beyond numbers. We have a group of girls that are truly committed to each other. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with this particular group because they’re so team-oriented. They’ve really invested in each other and I think that was the heart of our success. They’re a special group for sure.”

Crater00000010—142

Hillsboro10000001—240

Joseph and Sanderson; Staub and Kinney. W — Staub. L — Joseph (10-2). 2B — C: Robison; H: Staub.

GRANTS PASS 12, MCMINNVILLE 2, 6 inn.: At Grants Pass, Grace Gaither went 4-for-4 with six RBIs to pace Grants Pass in the home quarterfinal-round victory.

Top-seeded Grants Pass (26-3) will host Tualatin in Tuesday’s 6A semifinals. Tualatin (24-5) advanced wtih a 2-0 victory against Clackamas.

Gaither hit a grand slam in the second inning then smacked a two-run shot in the sixth.

Toni Stevens added three hits and two RBIs for the Cavers and teammates Kylie Rucker and Maddie Naylor had two hits each.

McMinnville110000—291

Grants Pass070203—12140

Hudson and Bates; Padgett and Stevens. W — Padgett. L — Hudson. 2B — M: Powell; GP: Stevens, Gaither, Ireland. 3B — GP: Stevens. HR — GP: Gaither 2.

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