A promising post-season run came to an abrupt halt last week when the Taft High School softball team lost its quarterfinal matchup to Cascade Christian. But with their youth, the future is looking bright for the Lady Tigers.
Taft 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 win catapulted the Tigers into the quarterfinals, where they faced the three seed Cascade Christian. The two teams met early in the season back in March, and Taft outlasted the Lady Challengers in a 12-11 shootout. However, Stuart knew this time their opponent would be seeking some revenge.
“We beat them over Spring Break, but a lot of time has passed since then,” Stuart said.
And revenge is exactly what the Challengers got.
Making the long trip to Medford, Taft used the offensive momentum from the first round game and scored a run in the opening inning. But after giving up two runs in the bottom of the first, the Lady Tigers were unable to regain the lead from that point on, losing 8-3 and bringing their season to a close.
“Ultimately, we did not play our best game,” Stuart said. “Their hitters had quite a few blooper hits that dropped and our hits were right at their defenders. Sometimes that is just the way the game goes.”
Coulter had two hits in the game to lead Taft and Lininger and Kayla Knott each tallied RBI’s in the contest. In the circle, Coulter pitched six innings, tallying five strikeouts and walking just three batters.
Even though it was a tough pill to swallow, losing by five to a team they had beat before, Stuart has a lot to look forward to in the future.
“We were a very young team this year and we are excited to see what the future holds for us next year,” Stuart said.