Cascade's Amyah Miranda is greeted at home plate after hitting a solo homer against Stayton. (Photo by Jeremy McDonald)
Cascade's Amyah Miranda is greeted at home plate after hitting a solo homer against Stayton. (Photo by Jeremy McDonald)

No. 7 Cascade continued its late-season offensive surge Wednesday by rapping 13 hits to dispatch No. 10 Stayton 8-4 in a key 4A Oregon West Conference softball game.

The host Cougars (21-3, 13-1) clinched at least a share of the Oregon West title over reigning conference champion Stayton (16-5, 11-2), beating the Eagles for the second time in three meetings. Cascade can clinch the outright title with a win Thursday in the conference finale against visiting Newport (4-18, 4-9).

“It felt like we were unstoppable,” said Cascade senior Kailee Bode, who hit a two-run double. “It kept going and kept going. It felt amazing. … Stayton, they’re our biggest competition. Getting that league champs, it feels good, but not as much as state champs.”

After Stayton took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, Cascade surged ahead 8-1 after five innings. Freshmen Pearl Pruett, Haylee Kastl and Jaelyn Lowry, junior Malia Scanlan and sophomore Amyah Miranda each had two hits. Miranda belted a solo home run and Bode and Lowry drove in two runs apiece.

“We came out aggressive,” Cascade coach Marty Jeppsen said. “The last week or so we've been getting more aggressive with our bats, which is what we've been teaching and preaching. It's coming around. It's a good time of year to start hitting the way we want to. One through nine, hitting the ball hard.”

Lowry started in the circle and held Stayton to two hits and one run through four innings. Sophomore ace Jari Stegman, who started the first two games against Stayton, finished the game in relief, giving up three runs on three hits.

Cascade won the Oregon West and the 4A title in 2022 but graduated nine players from that team. The Cougars restocked their roster last season and went 16-7, losing in the first round of the 4A playoffs.

With seven starters back from last season, Cascade has quickly retooled into a state contender.

“We like our chances,” Jeppsen said. “It's a very, very talented young group. We thought we'd have a chance to make a run at it. We like where we're at, we like where we're headed. This group will be around for a few years.”

Stegman has improved in her second season as the team's ace. In 78 innings, she has allowed 53 hits, struck out 134 and walked 22 and has a 1.62 ERA. Jeppsen said Stegman has taken a “huge step” after getting a personal trainer in the offseason and adding muscle.

“She's stronger, for sure,” he said. “It shows at the plate and in the circle. She has game speed and she has game maturity. She's done so much off-the-field work this year, and it shows.”

Cascade is batting .405 as a team. Scanlan, who moved from third base to shortstop to fill in for injured sophomore Cassidy Crabtree (torn ACL in October), is hitting .556 with 17 doubles, nine home runs and 37 RBIs. Miranda (.438, nine home runs, 32 RBIs), Kastl (.492, three home runs, 23 RBIs) and Stegman (.429) also are having big seasons at the plate.

Jeppsen said the Cougars are more talented than the 2022 state-championship group at the same stage.

“The thing that group had that this team is lacking is maturity, just the belief,” he said. “They're talented enough to compete with anybody, it's just a matter of if they can they stay in the moment, not panic in a close, tight game, stressful situations. … This group still has to slow their heart rate down sometimes. They get a little antsy, get a little hyped up.”

Cascade's losses were 5-2 to 5A No. 3 Silverton, 5-4 to Stayton and 2-1 in eight innings to 3A No. 4 Yamhill-Carlton.

“It stinks that we're losing those games, but all those experiences will help us down the road,” Jeppsen said.

– Jeremy McDonald contributed to this report

Oregon City tops West Linn

No. 3 Oregon City rallied from a three-run deficit for a 6-4 road win over No. 4 West Linn in a first-place showdown in the 6A Three Rivers League on Wednesday at Rosemont Ridge Middle School.

The Pioneers (21-2, 11-1) scored four runs in the fifth inning to take a 5-4 lead. They scored the first run on an error, then got RBI singles from senior Chloe Grimmer and senior Lily Riley and a sacrifice fly from junior Chloe Stromme.

Oregon City added a run in the sixth inning and held off the Lions (20-3, 11-2). Riley recorded the win in the circle, giving up eight hits, striking out 10 and walking one. Grimmer and junior Elle Joseph each had two hits for the Pioneers, who finished with seven hits off West Linn freshman Avery Wolf.

The Lions scored four runs in the second inning to take a 4-1 lead, getting a three-run homer from senior Rylee Gaustad, who went 3 for 4.

It was Oregon City's ninth consecutive win since a 2-0 road loss to West Linn on April 15. The teams meet against in the regular-season finale May 15 at Oregon City.

Sheldon rolling

No. 5 Sheldon extended its winning streak to 16 on Tuesday with a 4-2 home win over No. 1 Sherwood in a 6A nonleague game.

The reigning state champion Irish (21-3), whose only losses this season came against out-of-state teams, have won 32 in a row against Oregon competition.

Sheldon senior pitcher Payton Burnham dominated Sherwood (18-6), tossing a two-hitter with 19 strikeouts and not allowing an earned run. She also hit a solo homer.

Seniors Brooke Peterson and Kara Gebb had two hits apiece for Sheldon, which collected seven hits.

Sheldon opened the week with a doubleheader sweep at Roseburg on Monday. Burnham led a 6-0 win in the opener, pitching a two-hitter with nine strikeouts and hitting a homer and driving in four runs. In the second game, she fanned 12 in five innings to combine with sophomore Soraya Dorsey on a one-hitter in an 11-0 victory.

Sherwood fell at home to Newberg 4-3 on Wednesday, its fourth loss in five games after opening the season 17-2.

Big hitter

Junior Margaret Pizano helped Mazama (6-16, 3-13 4A Skyline Conference) end its season on a high note with a monster day at the plate in a doubleheader sweep of Klamath Union (8-15, 3-13) on Tuesday.

In the two games, Pizano went 6 for 9 with a double, three home runs and 11 RBIs. The Vikings, who had lost 13 of their previous 14 games, beat Klamath Union 15-10 and 13-11.