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On a day they also honored a former all-state player, the Canby Cougar softball team broke a three-game losing streak with a walk-off steal in the eighth inning by star junior Ava Carroll.
The other two games the Cougars (14-5, 4-3 Three Rivers League) had scheduled — Tualatin and Lake Oswego — were rained out, leaving only the Pacer game still on the books. Coming off of a brutal week that saw the Cougars lose three games by a combined score of 25-4, the extra break was much appreciated.
“Only playing one game this week is honestly a very big relief,” Ava Carroll told the Current. “It gives us much more time to work on things that we need to improve on and helps us be prepared for upcoming games.”
Before their matchup against Lakeridge (10-9, 2-6 TRL), the Cougars mourned the loss of Alissa Netter, a former all-state first-teamer and pillar of the Canby athletics community, who passed away suddenly the previous week at the age of 51.
Sporting stickers bearing her former number 12, coach Ty Kraft orchestrated a moment of silence 15 minutes before the game.
Following the emotional moment, the Cougars and Pacers slugged it out on the field. Neither team was able to strangle away the lead for the first six innings. Canby managed to get runners on base — including stranding Abigail Loomis and Madi Bigej in the second inning — but were unable to drive them home.
Meanwhile, the Pacers had the opposite problem: with Loomis dealing 15 strikeouts in the game, they weren’t getting on base at all. Through six innings, Ella Peake was the only Pacer to record a hit.
With the score tied 0-0, Macy Safley singled in the top of the seventh inning — only the second hit of the day for Lakeridge. Staying cool, calm, and collected, Loomis finished out the inning with two strikeouts.
After the Cougars failed to score in the seventh, Loomis trotted back out into extra innings and continued right where she left off.
The senior struck out the side with an immaculate inning; incredibly, all nine pitches Loomis threw in the eighth were strikes. In fact, Canby’s ace struck out eight of the last nine batters she faced.
Bolstered by this incredible pitching, Kraft and his staff knew they could take risks. And when the cards perfectly aligned for a storybook ending, they took that chance.
Carroll singled to begin the inning, then advanced to second on another single from Kenna Kraft. After the Pacers picked up their second out, Carroll made it to third thanks to a Loomis walk. With Kaylee Allen up to bat and two outs on the board, the coaches sent Carroll to steal home.
“When Coach told me to steal home, I felt excited and confident because I knew the decision would win the game,” Carroll said. “While running home, I was a little nervous but my confidence was through the roof.”
Cougar Country on Twitter: “The Cougars broke a three-game losing streak in the most dramatic of fashions last week: a walk-off steal of home by star junior Ava Carroll. Here’s the vid. @CanbyAthletics @CanbyCurrent @CanbySoc @Canby_Football @CougarChs #canbyproud #gocougars #cougarcountry pic.twitter.com/GVO3SpJvir / Twitter”
The Cougars broke a three-game losing streak in the most dramatic of fashions last week: a walk-off steal of home by star junior Ava Carroll. Here’s the vid. @CanbyAthletics @CanbyCurrent @CanbySoc @Canby_Football @CougarChs #canbyproud #gocougars #cougarcountry pic.twitter.com/GVO3SpJvir
Carroll sprinted home, passing the unaware Lakeridge catcher and winning the game for the Cougars. While not an officially recorded statistic, walk-off steals are known to be one of the rarest events in baseball or softball. Only 35 major league games have ended with a runner stealing home — and just two have occurred since 1980.
“At the beginning of the Lakeridge game, I was so determined to win and it worked out in the end,” Carroll said. “Being able to not have a losing streak anymore is awesome.”
With the win, the Cougs improve to 14-5 on the season and jump up to No. 3 in the OSAA rankings. They’ll make up their Lake Oswego rainout on Monday before facing two top-5 opponents to round out the week in No. 5 Oregon City and No. 1 Tigard. The home Lake Oswego is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
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