Firecrackers win third in state

The Hood River Firecrackers girls softball team finished third at this week's Oregon State Tourÿnament in Portland, becoming the first 9-10 girls team from Hood River ever to place in the top three.

"This team surprised everyone," Coach Randy Kiyoÿkawa said. "To be the first team to place in the top three is a tremenÿdous accomplishment."

Kiyokawa stressed that the team's dream season was a total team effort, in which each player contributed to the team's success in her own way.

"This wasn't about one or two players," he said. "Everyone on the team helped us get where we are."

But the Firecrackers didn't just make it to state -- they made a serious run at the title. After losing the opening game 9-3 to Peninsula last weekend, the girls rallied to win the second game against Klamath Falls in convincÿing fashion by a score of 14-4.

The bats stayed hot Monday night against Cascade as Hood River rolled to an 11-5 victory. But it wasn't just the bats that were smoking. Pitcher Courtney Ewald went the distance and struck out 11 to ice the victory. The offensive stars were Kate Blumenthal (3-4) and Sarah Pritchett, who had three walks, a double, and scored three runs.

That set up a rematch against Peninsula on Tuesday night -- the game Kiyokawa termed a "reÿvenge match."

Maggie Edwards spearheaded the offense with two homeruns and four RBI's, while pitcher Auÿdrey Mallon silenced the Peninsuÿla bats with eight strikeouts in the 7-5 win. Blumenthal also conÿtributed greatly with her outfield defense, doubling up baserunners on in back-to-back innings to end scoring threats.

"Those two plays were the turnÿing point in the game," Kiyokawa said.

Guaranteed no worse than third place, the Firecrackers moved on to face Murray Hill Wednesday night. Things started off well, with Hood River leading 4-3 after two, but Murray Hill plated 14 runs in the third to put the game out of reach at 17-4.

Hood River's season has come to an endbut the memories will live on forever -- for kids and parents alike.

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