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With West Albany down to the final strike of its season, Georgia Smith delivered when it mattered most.

Smith drove a 1 2 pitch deep to left center and off the glove of a diving Lucy Yazzolino to bring around two runs, giving the Bulldogs an improbable come from behind 18 17 win over Canby in the first round of the OSAA 6A state softball playoffs.

The bottom of the seventh started with a lead off intentional walk to Hailey Davis. Davis had homered in her first two at bats and Canby elected to take the bat out of her hand, intentionally walking her in her final three at bats.

West Albany still trailed 17 14 following two fielder’s choices and a single from Mahayla Gamble. With two outs, Caelin Johnson delivered a two RBI single to bring the Bulldogs back within one.

Despite chopping into the lead throughout the game, the Bulldogs pulled no closer than a three run deficit. That came off Sophia Lynn’s solo home run in the sixth.

Alli Pearson drew a walk, putting two with two away, setting the stage for Smith. As the ball fell past Yazzolino, Smith said she never had a doubt in her walk off hit.

“I had confidence in it and my team had confidence in it,” Smith said. “We were never down throughout the game and the team stayed in it and that’s just what happened.”

It was the first walk off hit in the junior’s career.

Coach Ryan Borde had pointed to comeback wins against South Salem and McNary after Monday’s rain delay as evidence that the Bulldogs could come back and win a game. That proved true against the Cougars.

“We talked earlier in the season after the McNary and South Salem games that that was going to prepare us for something down the road,” Borde said. “That something came today against Canby. Canby gave us their best fight but our girls never stopped believing.”

On Monday, Gamble had gotten roughed up in the first inning, giving up six runs and leaving without recording an out. Canby led 10 2 with a runner on second and one out in the top of the second inning when the game was suspended due to rain.

On Tuesday, the roles were reversed. April Kingry, who had been pitching in relief, gave up four runs in the fourth and Gamble was called on to re enter the game.

With two runners on, Gamble worked out of the jam in the fourth and only allowed one run in her 3 1/3 innings of work and picked up the win.

“It felt nice to redeem myself and come back and say ‘Hey, I can do this and I know what I’m doing out here,'” Gamble said.

Added Borde: “Yesterday didn’t go (Gamble’s) way and she could have hung her head, but she didn’t. She came right back and did exactly what we asked her to.”

Gamble and Kingry had to take the circle for the Bulldogs as both Julia Smith Harrington and Kelsey Broadus were unavailable due to injury. Their availability for the Bulldogs’ second round game against Franklin on Wednesday is not clear.

Gamble also delivered at the plate, singling and later coming around to score in the deciding seventh inning.

Canby looked as though it was going to pick up where it started, scoring twice in the second to re establish a 10 run lead. West could not respond in the bottom of the frame but came back in a big way in the bottom of the third.

Davis hit her second home run of the game over the berm in straight away center and the Bulldogs had life once again.

“It was just another swing,” Davis said. “The ball was there and it went over this time. It meant a lot for our team. I know we were getting down on ourselves after (Monday) but it really helped boost the energy.”

Canby would come right back, stretching the lead back out to 11, but Kingry’s three RBI double brought West right back to within seven.

It was a see saw affair. Each time West Albany made a push, Canby pushed back. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they had the final push.

West has prided itself all season long in its ability to put up big innings. The Bulldogs scored four runs three times, as well as a three run and two run inning.

“We know we can swing the bats with anybody. When we’re on offensively, we’re pretty unstoppable,” Borde said.

West Albany has no time to rest with Franklin (23 4) coming to town on Wednesday. West Albany hosted Franklin in nonconference play May 18 and the Quakers won that game in a rout, 14 1 in six innings.

Borde believes his team will be better prepared for the second game against the Portland Interscholastic League champion.

“We have to show up, coaches and players, no matter who we’re playing. That’s on me for not having my team ready that day Tomorrow it starts with our coaching staff to come out and set the tone, getting our girls to believe they can beat Franklin.”
drake beats headphones West Albany completes comeback with walk