Glencoe senior Bailey Farrimond shut out No. 5 Central Catholic and No. 4 West Linn in the playoffs. (Photo by Norm Maves Jr.)
Glencoe senior Bailey Farrimond shut out No. 5 Central Catholic and No. 4 West Linn in the playoffs. (Photo by Norm Maves Jr.)

Forget about being the No. 21 seed in the playoffs, the lowest ever to advance to the 6A softball final since seeding was implemented in 2011.

Even after four road playoff wins, as upstart Glencoe (19-11) prepares to play reigning champion Sheldon (28-3) for the title Saturday at the University of Oregon, Crimson Tide coaches and players don't consider the team a Cinderella story.

“If I said I didn't see it coming, I'd be lying,” said coach Wade Sahlfeld, whose team finished in fifth place in the Pacific Conference. “They just finally bought in. The confidence just started happening, and they took off.”

Senior pitcher Bailey Farrimond said she “isn't surprised at all” by making the final.

“We truly have been living up to our potential,” she said. “Now I feel like we're just playing the team game. We're just working together more.”

Few observers, if any, gave Glencoe much of a chance entering the playoffs. The Crimson Tide lost five of its last eight regular season games and carried a 15-11 record into the postseason.

Glencoe appeared headed for a quick exit in the first round, trailing No. 12 Sunset 3-0 heading into the top of the seventh inning. Up to that point, the Crimson Tide was unable to get a single baserunner against Apollos pitcher Keana Cooper. Somehow, though, Glencoe rallied for four runs to win 4-3.

Sahlfeld said it was just a matter of time before his hitters made the necessary adjustments.

“I'm just glad we didn't run out of innings there,” Sahlfeld said. “My kids don't stop fighting. They've very competitive and they're fearless.”

The Crimson Tide got a jolt of energy from the win.

“It really gave a bunch of hope to all of our girls,” Farrimond said. “It really showed them what we're truly capable of.”

The win over Sunset set the stage for a stunning run through the bracket. The Crimson Tide beat No. 5 Central Catholic 8-0 and No. 4 West Linn 9-0 to reach the semifinals, where it upset top-seeded Westview 7-2 on Tuesday.

The surge has sent shock waves through 6A softball – except for inside the Glencoe dugout.

“The girls knew there was a very good potential we could go on a deep run,” Sahlfeld said. “That was one of their goals at the beginning of the season.

“I think the Pacific Conference is very, very underrated. We beat up on each other the entire league season, and I think that helped us prepare. We've been put in pressure situations since league started. And we had a pretty tough nonleague schedule, as well.”

Softball success is nothing new to Glencoe. From 2007 to 2019, the Crimson Tide won at least 22 games 12 times and reached six state championship games, winning the 5A title in 2010. Glencoe moved back to 6A in 2011 and was state runner-up in 2013 and 2016.

“There's quite a few of these girls that remember coming to the playoff games when they were little, watching that last run we took to the finals,” said Sahlfeld, a 1993 Glencoe graduate whose daughter, Sydney, played on the 2016 runner-up team and now is on the coaching staff.

Farrimond was one of Glencoe's biggest fans in 2016.

“I went and watched almost every single one of their games,” she said. “It was great to watch. It was always one of my dreams as a little girl to get to where I am today.”

The Crimson Tide slipped in recent seasons, however, going 4-19 in 2022. The team improved to 13-15 last year in its first season under Sahlfeld, and with every starter returning this year, Glencoe expected to contend in the Pacific.

The team is young – starting three sophomores and three freshman in the field – but has a steadying influence in the circle with the George Fox-bound Farrimond. The fourth-year starter earned Pacific pitcher of the year honors, compiling a 2.20 ERA.

“She's one of the most competitive kids I've ever coached,” Wade Sahlfeld said. “Her competitive fire is what fuels her. For the young kids, the first part of the year, it kind of scares them a little bit. Not a lot of joking around when she's in the circle.”

The offense is led by sophomore shortstop Makena Petrick, the daughter of former Glencoe baseball and football standout Ben Petrick, who played for the Colorado Rockies. Makena, the Pacific's player of the year, leads the team in batting (.561), home runs (8) and RBIs (36).

“She's definitely got the genes to succeed,” Wade Sahlfeld said. “She can hit the snot out of the ball.”

To win the title, Glencoe must contend with a Sheldon team that has won 39 in a row against Oregon competition. The Irish have a dominant pitcher in Arkansas-bound senior Payton Burnham, the 6A pitcher of the year in 2023.

“Ultimate respect,” Wade Sahlfeld said. “We have a tall task in front of us. I just hope we can make it respectable.”

Given its playoff path, the Crimson Tide isn't short on confidence.

“I feel like we've got this,” Farrimond said. “As long as we stay together, and we stay calm, and we play for each other, nothing can stop us.”

A look at the state championship games, Friday and Saturday at the University of Oregon's Jane Sanders Stadium:

6A, Saturday, 6 p.m.

No. 21 Glencoe (19-11) vs. No. 2 Sheldon (28-3): Sheldon goes for a repeat title and third since 2019. The Irish have won 39 in a row against Oregon teams, and 23 consecutive overall. Their only losses this season came in California. Sheldon is led by Arkansas-bound senior pitcher Payton Burnham (142 innings, 40 hits, 308 strikeouts, 19 walks), the 6A pitcher of the year last season, when she struck out 386. In four playoff games, Burnham has struck out 47 and allowed five hits in 22 innings and has three home runs and nine RBIs. For the season, she is hitting .544 with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs. In last year's final, Sheldon defeated Oregon City 1-0 despite not having a hit. Brooke Peterson scored the winning run on an obstruction call at third base in the bottom of the seventh inning. In that game, Burnham tossed a five-hitter with 17 strikeouts. The Irish are playing for a first-year coach in Avery Morehead Hutsell, an assistant under Mike Faulconer last season. Seniors Kinley Pappas (.643, seven home runs, 39 RBIs) and Avery Coffin (.437, five home runs, 34 RBIs) are among Sheldon's seven returning starters. Glencoe is 1-5 in state championship games, winning the 5A title in 2010. The Crimson Tide's last finals appearance was in 2016, a 9-1 loss to Jesuit. Glencoe has the Pacific Conference player of the year in sophomore shortstop Makena Petrick (.561, eight home runs, 36 RBIs) and pitcher of the year in senior Bailey Farrimond (134 innings, 129 hits, 104 strikeouts, 34 walks, 2.20 ERA). Farrimond shut out No. 5 Central Catholic and No. 4 West Linn in the playoffs. Farrimond is a threat at the plate, too, hitting .453 with five home runs and 31 RBIs.

5A, Saturday, 3 p.m.

No. 4 Lebanon (22-7) vs. No. 2 Bend (23-6): Both teams are going for their first state title. Lebanon reached the state final last year by defeating Bend 4-3 in the semifinals, but lost to Mid-Willamette Conference rival Dallas 6-5 in eight innings. In that loss, the Warriors committed four errors, allowing the Dragons to rally from a 4-0, fifth-inning deficit. The winning run scored on an error in the bottom of the eighth. Lebanon got payback on Dallas by beating the Dragons 3-1 in the semifinals as sophomore Tatum Cole hit a two-run homer and earned the win in the circle. Cole (133 1/3 innings, 242 strikeouts, 1.30 ERA) has been dominant as the team's first-year ace. Junior catcher Gen Osburg (.464, five homers, 37 RBIs) and senior leadoff hitter Jannah Jimenez (.461, six home runs, 40 runs) spark Lebanon's offense. The Lava Bears, who lost in the semifinals the last two seasons, are appearing in their first final. They have one of the nation's top seniors in UCLA-bound pitcher Addisen Fisher, who is a force not only in the circle (127 2/3 innings, 40 hits, 259 strikeouts, 17 walks), but on offense (.671, 17 home runs, 40 RBIs). In last year's semifinal loss to Lebanon, Fisher gave up six hits and walked six. Bend has hit eight home runs in its last two games. Juniors Taylor Aldrich (.360, three home runs, 29 RBIs) and Lauren Glasser (.369, seven home runs, 28 RBIs) provide pop.

4A, Saturday, 12 p.m.

No. 3 Pendleton (28-2) vs. No. 1 Henley (29-2): Pendleton has appeared in six finals since 2011 and Henley has made it to eight finals since 2008, but the teams have never met in a championship game. Pendleton won 5A titles in 2012, 2014, 2018 and 2022. Henley is 2-8 all-time in the finals, winning in 1989 and 2017. The teams clashed in the 2023 semifinals, with Henley prevailing 11-10 in eight innings. The Hornets' Natalie Hudson hit an RBI single in the eighth to end it. Henley is looking to make amends for last year's final, when it lost to The Dalles 16-0 in five innings. The Hornets had just one hit and committed five errors behind pitcher Annie Campos, who walked four and had eight wild pitches. Campos, the 4A girls basketball player of the year in leading Henley to the state title, is having an outstanding senior season in the circle (126 2/3 innings, 93 hits, 203 strikeouts, 73 walks, 2.43 ERA) and at the plate (.543, seven home runs, 52 RBIs). Sophomore Layliana Segura (.442, eight home runs, 41 RBIs) and junior Anna Harper (.427, six home runs, 34 RBIs) also swing big bats. Pendleton is the highest-scoring team in 4A at 12.2 runs per game. Senior Avery Krigbaum (.463, 15 home runs, 52 RBIs) and junior Reese Furstenberg (.563, seven home runs, 44 RBIs) lead a dynamic lineup. Buckaroos coach Tim Cary is 439-122 with four state titles in 19 seasons at the school. He ranks No. 10 on the state's all-time wins list.

3A, Friday, 2 p.m.

No. 2 South Umpqua (26-3) vs. No. 1 Scio (25-1): The game matches one of the state's top pitchers in Scio junior Myleigh Cooper against a South Umpqua offense that is averaging 11.4 runs per game. The Cal Poly-bound Cooper (21-1, 0.44 ERA) has fanned 255 and walked 25 in 128 2/3 innings. Last year, in Scio's first state final, she tossed a three-hitter with 16 strikeouts but the Loggers lost 1-0 in 12 innings to Burns ace Ayla Davies (three-hitter, 23 strikeouts). Scio avenged that defeat in the semifinals, knocking off two-time reigning champion Burns 4-0 as Cooper threw a no-hitter with 15 strikeouts and hit a home run off Davies. Cooper also is having a monster season at the plate, batting .667 with 14 home runs and 50 RBIs. She has 49 career home runs, No. 2 in state history behind Ariel Carlson of Marist Catholic (72, 2016-19). The Loggers have won 22 in a row since a 4-2 loss to 2A/1A finalist Grant Union. Scio has six sophomores and four freshmen on its roster. South Umpqua, which reached the 20-win mark for the sixth time in seven seasons, has never played in a state final. The Lancers earned their spot when senior Kaydence Norton hit a walk-off three-run homer to beat Yamhill-Carlton 6-3 in the semifinals. Norton is hitting .518 with nine homers and 42 RBIs. Junior pitcher Reaghan Gilbert is batting .505 with five homers and 50 RBIs and senior Ashlyn Vey is hitting .435 with 20 doubles, four homers and 38 RBIs. The teams met in a nonleague game at Stayton last season, with Scio winning 11-2.

2A/1A, Friday, 5 p.m.

No. 2 Weston-McEwen/Griswold (21-4) vs. No. 1 Grant Union/Prairie City (24-4): For the second year in a row, the Special District 7 rivals meet in the final. Grant Union won 10-0 in six innings last year as Drew Williams pitched a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts. It was the first title for the Prospectors, the runners-up in 2022. Weston-McEwen is 0-3 in finals, also falling in 2007 and 2015. Weston-McEwen won the district title this season, sweeping a home doubleheader from Grant Union, 5-3 and 4-2. The TigerScots scored four runs in the seventh inning to win the second game, getting a walk-off three-run homer from sophomore Bre Ward off senior Halle Parsons. In the first game, Ward recorded the win in the circle over Williams. The TigerScots have shown a flair for the dramatic in the playoffs, scoring twice in the seventh inning to beat Blanchet Catholic 2-1 in the second round and rallying for five, two-out runs in the seventh to edge Willamina 5-4 in the semifinals. Ward and senior Hailey Stallings have shared time in the circle. Stallings (.521, 30 RBIs), Ward (.424, five home runs, 39 RBIs) and sophomore Lily Langford (.506, five home runs, 28 RBIs) lead the offense. Williams, the 2A/1A pitcher of the year as a junior last season, has committed to College of Idaho. In 109 innings, Williams has struck out 208 and walked 28 and has an ERA of 1.09. She also is hitting .407 with three homers and 30 RBIs. Junior catcher Addy Northway (.495, four home runs, 30 RBIs) is the district player of the year. Parsons (10 home runs, 48 RBIs), senior Sivanna Hodge (10 home runs, 31 RBIs) and juniors Savannah Watterson (.517, six home runs, 31 RBIs) and Reece Jacobs (.534, eight home runs, 38 RBIs) are putting up big numbers.