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Scio softball battles into Class 3A state finals

The Scio High softball team has been waiting almost a year for this one.

The Loggers lost a heartbreaking 1-0 decision in 12 innings to Burns/Crane in last year’s Class 3A title game on June 2, 2023. And to get back to this weekend’s championship game there was Burns/Crane again, coming to Scio’s Baggett Field on May 28 for a highly anticipated semifinal.

The two teams were largely the same, six returning starters for the Hilanders and eight for the Loggers. And the two pitchers who combined to allow just six hits and strike out 39 batters last year, Ayla Davies of Burns/Crane and Myleigh Cooper of the Loggers, were ready to duel again.

Round 2 went to the Loggers. 

Cooper fired a no-hitter and struck out 15 batters while also belting a home run to lead Scio to a 4-0 victory before a huge, enthusiastic crowd. The win, the 22nd in a row for the top-ranked Loggers, 25-1, lifts the squad into Friday’s 2 p.m. Class 3A title game against South Umpqua at Jane Sanders Stadium at the University of Oregon. South Umpqua advanced with a 6-3 win against Yamhill-Carlton, Scio’s Special District 2 rival.

“This is what we have been pointing for all year,” Loggers coach Jim Mask said. “Our goal is to win a state title. A ton of hard work went into this. I can’t say enough about how hard they have worked to get here.” 

Cooper was magnificent. She struck out the first seven batters she faced and did not allow a baserunner until she walked Gracie Mello in the top of the 4th. 

The only other batter to reach base was Davies, who got on board via an error leading off the seventh. Mello then bunted but Cooper threw her out, with Davies moving to second. Cooper then fanned Ashley Wright for her 15th strikeout before retiring Cara Goss-Bodily on a comebacker, starting the Scio celebration.

“Myleigh was fabulous,” Mask said. “And that’s a heckuva good team over there. And they’ve got a heckuva good pitcher of their own.”

Davies was not as sharp as she was in the 2023 title game, allowing four runs on four hits and striking out 11. Her defense had a couple of shaky innings, committing six errors overall and led to two of the four Scio runs.

The other two runs? Well, they were just a function of raw power. 

Cooper belted a home run that ticked off the top of the fence in right-center in the bottom of the fith and her catcher, Cam Dalke, blasted one into the arbor vitae tree screen in almost straightaway center field in the bottom of the sixth.

Shortstop Macy Johnson walked, stole second and scored on a pair of Burns/Crane errors to open the scoring in the bottom of the fourth, leading Mask to say afterward, “man, that was 16 innings against them without a run. I was wondering if we were ever going to score against her (Davies).”

Rilee Nelson singled, stole second and scored on a pair of Hilanders errors for the fourth Loggers run after Dalke’s HR had made the score 3-0.

Notes: I was right behind home plate at the top of the bleachers, a great vantage point from which to watch Cooper pitch. Her location and movement were off the charts. Time and again she uncorked pitches that moved in toward the plate and just scraped the inside corner at the knees. … The junior right-hander was assisted by one superlative defensive play in the top of the sixth. With one out, left-handed pinch hitter Skyla Samples uncorked a nice bunt down the first base line. Scio first baseman Megan Trissel gathered it in and threw to second baseman Khloe Free at first. The ball bounced about 6 feet in front of Free, but she made a terrific scoop to get the out. … If you are looking ahead to the future for Scio softball, note that Free is the lone senior on the roster.

South Umpqua, 26-3 and the No. 2 seed, and the Loggers have one common opponent, Yamhill-Carlton. Scio downed the Tigers 3-2 and 4-0 in league play, while South won 6-3 Tuesday in the semis. Kaydence Norton belted a three-run walkoff homer for the Lancers.

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