TIGARD – At some point, Makenna Reid's high school softball career will end and she will focus on her promising future as a pitcher at Florida State.
Until then, though, the left-handed Reid is on a mission to push top-seeded Tigard (27-3) through the 6A playoffs.
“I just take it like I don't want to lose a game, I don't want my career to end yet,” Reid said Friday after a 5-0 quarterfinal win over visiting Newberg. “We all have a goal in my mind, so we just have two more games.”
Coming off a perfect game in a second-round win over South Salem, Reid continued her playoff dominance by handcuffing No. 8 Newberg (23-6). She pitched a three-hitter with 17 strikeouts – walking two and hitting a batter – to win a much-anticipated duel with Newberg senior Serayah Neiss, who has signed with Fresno State.
With her performance Friday, Reid became the second player in state history to record 400 strikeouts in a season. In 182 innings, she has struck out 406, behind only Crystal Draper, who fanned 449 for Hood River Valley in 1997.
More important, though, Reid has led Tigard into rare territory. The Tigers will make their first semifinal appearance since 1991 on Tuesday when they play host to No. 4 McNary. They have never won a title, losing to Putnam in their only state final in 1988.
“We're not satisfied with one win, we're going to keep going,” Tigard junior Nozomi Akin said. “It's really fun. That's what we're emphasizing, just having fun.”
Tigard's offense faced a challenge Friday against Neiss, who threw a one-hitter with 20 strikeouts in a second-round win over Jesuit. But Tigard hitters were confident from already facing Neiss in a 7-1 nonleague win on April 13.
“Yesterday at practice, we were just working on her riseball all day,” Tigard senior Kani Korok said. “So I think we came in with the anticipation that we were going to come and hit the ball, and that's what we did.”
Korok came through with the biggest hits, collecting four RBIs. She hit a soft liner off the shortstop's glove for a single to drive in two runs in the third inning. Two innings later, she ripped a two-run double into the right field corner to make it 4-0. Sophomore Hailey White followed with an RBI single for a 5-0 lead.
Korok's one-out, bases-loaded double was the back-breaker. The table was set on singles by sophomore Ella Dardis and Akin and an intentional walk to junior slugger Karen Spadafora.
“I knew I needed to get a hit,” Korok said. “This pitcher was tough. I've faced her before. You just have to work with what she gives you. I went in with the anticipation that I was going to smack this ball, no matter how many runners were on base.
“At some point, I knew I was going to hit this ball. My teammates rely on me, so I knew I had to get the job done for all of us.”
Tigard collected seven hits off Neiss. The Tigers patiently worked the count against Neiss, who struck out 10, walked two and hit a batter.
“We all knew what she was going to throw, the riseball, and she can hit her corners,” Akin said.
Akin and Korok each had two hits and Dardis, Spadafora and White had one hit apiece.
“I think everyone knew what pitch they were going to look for,” Korok said. “And at some point, the pitcher is going to get tired, and she's going to give you one. You've just got to take advantage of that.”
Newberg had its chances against Reid but stranded six runners, four in scoring position. Senior Brooke Poff and junior Abby Carsley led off with doubles in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, but Newberg could not capitalize.
“I think definitely in the beginning of the game it was pretty intense, and then once we put up the five-spot, it was definitely nice,” Reid said. “I thought I threw good. I knew they would come out swinging, so it was definitely good. I thought I didn't have a lot of misses, and I felt good about getting out of jams.”
The loss ended a breakthrough season for Newberg, which shared the Pacific Conference title with McMinnville and Sherwood and appeared in the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. Neiss racked up 357 strikeouts along the way, No. 7 all-time in the state.
“I'm so proud of our team,” Neiss said. “We really came together this season, and we just bonded.
“I knew that Tigard's a great team, and I knew I'd have to battle hard to keep them to a low amount. They're just a great team. I went out there and left it all on the field. What happened, happened. It was a great season, though.”