ECHO — With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Alisen Neasham’s atbat was interrupted by a pitching change. Ahead 2-0 on Weston-McEwen reliever Taylor Entze and with a pair of runners on base, the TigerScots motioned for Molly von Borstel — the game’s starter. On a scorching afternoon in Echo, Neasham did not feel good being put on ice.
“I got a little nervous at the beginning but then I took some time, breathed through it and took a deep breadth before I stepped into the box again,” the Echo shortstop said. “And I did what I was supposed to.”
Weston-McEwen (11-9, 6-6 SD5) was eliminated with the loss.
The visiting TigerScots held the lead through the first half of this game before Echo put up three runs in the fourth inning on von Borstel. The TigerScots sophomore lefty pitched six innings and threw 89 pitches before being pulled from the game for the final inning. Von Borstel pitched 15 innings over the weekend when the TigerScots split with Heppner and coach Jeff Griggs had his ace on a pitch count — even with the season on the line.
“We knew that she wasn’t feeling tops,” Griggs said. “It’s a tough decision to have to make as a coach...I’m willing to put it on my shoulders and say, ‘Hey I felt like that was what was better for my kids,’ and I wasn’t going to throw Molly more if I could help it.”
But after Entze threw nearly a dozen skipping stones and walked two batters in the seventh, Griggs couldn’t help it anymore. In came Von Borstel, who only threw two more pitches. The second was the gateway to Neasham’s game winner.
Echo won this game with small ball. The three runs they scored early on came on sacrifice flies by Rachael Round and Sterling Braithwaite and then a wild pitch. Echo has needed to scratch out wins several times this season, coach Amo Estrada said, especially against Weston-McEwen.
That’s the mind set, knowing that the game’s still early and if the ball is in its spot, we’re going to put it in play,” Estrada said.
All four matchups between these teams was won in the final at-bat. Echo took two extra-inning games from Weston-McEwen at home in April while the TigerScots punched their own one-run victory in Athena this month with a walkoff.
Weston-McEwen’s offense came on a pair of big swings Tuesday. Taryn Coffman laced an RBI triple to left field just out of the reach of the Echo defender to score the game’s first run in the second inning. Then in the third, von Borstel
busted out the aluminum with a two-run home run, a line drive that cleared the right-center field fence by a bus length.
The TigerScots will hang up their cleats for the season despite finishing their scheduled as the fourth ranked team in Class 2A/1A softball by RPI. But only two teams will go to the state tournament from SD5 this year.
“I’m not happy it’s over but I guess I’m glad I get to spend my whole graduation week doing activities,” a choked-up, bright-side searching McKenzie Fuhrman said. The TigerScot center fielder had two slap singles in the game.
Echo will meet Irrigon (13-8, 6-6 SD5) on Saturday at 11 a.m in Heppner with the winner playing the Mustangs to decide the order of state qualifiers. Irrigon swept the Cougars last Saturday to end their regular season and take the second seed in the district tournament.