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They came. They saw. They beat the No. 1-ranked team in the state on their home turf. That was the story for the Canby Cougars softball team (8-2) Monday night, as they took down the top-ranked Tigers (11-2) in an impressive 5-1 victory.
Canby has been no stranger to top-ranked opponents this season. The Cougars have played three opponents ranked in the top 11 so far — No. 3 Bend, No. 8 McMinnville, and No. 11 South Medford — so their Monday battle against the Tigers was a comfortable spot for coach Ty Kraft and his team.
The Cougars sure looked comfortable at the beginning of the game. Junior Ava Carroll, one of the hardest-hitting players in the state, got to first base on a leadoff bunt to start the day. Just three pitches later, Natalie Just brought Carroll home with a double to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
Though Tiger Serayah Neiss finished the inning with three straight outs, a wild pitch allowed Just to scamper home. After one inning and five batters, the Cougars led 2-0 against the top-ranked team in the state.
Standout pitcher Abigail Loomis — who had allowed only two runs over the past four games — made sure Newberg would have to work for their runs. After the Tigers got two runners on base with no outs in the second inning, Loomis struck out two batters and set up an easy infield fly on the other to preserve the shutout.
Loomis allowed just one hit in the third inning, but it would be the one run Newberg scored on the day — a solo bomb by Brooklyn Mills. Although that shot inched the Tigers closer, the offense would soon peter out. Newberg managed just one more hit off of Loomis the rest of the day.
The Cougars took advantage of the silent Tiger bats, incrementally scooting away from their opponents one run at a time. Carroll increased the lead to 3-1 in the fifth inning with a grounder that brought Kaylee Allen home.
As Loomis continued to deal strikes that the Tigers couldn’t seem to touch, Carroll delivered the knockout shot of the day in the top of the seventh: a two-run homer that brought home Bree Marino and gave the Cougars a commanding 5-1 lead. Loomis finished the day with a strikeout to give Canby their biggest win of the year.
“Getting this win off of Newberg was such an amazing feeling because they are a very strong team, and I don’t think they saw this L coming,” Carroll told the Current.
“As a team, we keep climbing and climbing and these top 10 teams don’t see it coming. Our team’s chemistry is getting much stronger while we move deeper into the season.”
Loomis and Carroll headlined the day, with Loomis striking out nine and Carroll tallying two hits, two runs scored, and two RBI. Natalie Just was the remaining Cougar to earn an RBI on the day, while Marino and Allen knocked out the other hits.
With the victory, Canby improves its winning streak to five straight and climbs to No. 4 in the OSAA rankings. Next up, the Cougars play Westview (8-4) at home on Wednesday, before beginning their league schedule with another home tilt against yet another top team — No. 6 Tualatin (8-1).
The game against the Timberwolves starts at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
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