For younger teams, the elevated level of play in the State Playoffs is often the demise. But for the Taft High School softball team, they relished in the moment and punched their ticket to the quarterfinals.

The Lady Tigers hosted their first round opponent Vale, who made the cross state journey to Lincoln City on May 22. In front of a large crowd, Taft played with high energy from the start, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning and never looking back.

“I was very proud of our young team yesterday,” head coach Sandy Stuart said. “With all the extra stuff that comes with a playoff game, I thought they might be nervous but they were just excited to play and you could tell.”

The visitors from Vale never seemed to challenge Taft, as the Lady Tigers tallied 13 hits in the contest, outscoring them 11-1 and winning in five innings via the mercy rule. But as great as the offense was all game, it was the defense that stood out and the effort of Taft ace pitcher Emma Coulter, who relinquished just three hits all game and recorded six strikeouts.

“We had strong offense and some great defensive plays as well,” Stuart said. “Emma pitched a killer game in the circle and another high point was our aggressive base running.”

Offensively, Kayla Lininger had a huge day with three hits and four RBI’s. Addie Gates had three hits, three runs scored and two RBI’s and Coulter also had a pair of hits and three RBI’s.

The catapults the Tigers into the quarterfinals, where they now have a date with the three seed Cascade Christian. The two teams met once already this season back in March and Taft outlasted the Lady Challengers in a 12-11 shootout. However, Stuart knows this time their opponents will be seeking some revenge.

“We beat them over Spring Break, but a lot of time has passed since then,” Stuart said. “We will need to come with our A-game again.”

The game at Cascade Christian High School is scheduled for Friday, May 24 at 4 p.m.

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