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Sheldon wins 6A Oregon softball state title in wild ending as winning run scores on obstruction call

“I knew I was going to get the obstruction call,” Sheldon's Brooke Peterson said. “She was right in the way, and I couldn’t get to the base.
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By Dan Brood | Photos by Taylor Balkom 

Brooke Peterson isn’t the weeping type. 

She said said she doesn’t cry at all. 

The Sheldon junior has been part of big victories before and kept a dry eye.

But there she was, surrounded by, and celebrating with, her Irish teammates — with tears rolling down her cheeks.

But give her a break. After all, she just scored the winning run — albeit under unusual circumstances, as she was ruled safe, after first being called out, because of an obstruction call — touching the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Irish a 1-0 win over Oregon City in a thrilling, pressure-packed Class 6A softball state championship game Saturday in front of a large crowd at Jane Sanders Stadium in Eugene.

“I immediately started crying,” Peterson said while sporting a bright smile during Sheldon’s victory celebration. “I don’t cry, and I never expected I’d cry after winning the championship game. I’ve won some big titles in club, and I’ve never cried. But I was just so proud of (Sheldon senior) Meara (Sain) getting it (a bunt) down, and (junior pitcher) Payton (Burnham) putting up such a good battle. I was just overcome with emotions.”

So were some of her state champion Irish teammates.

“I’m just so happy. This has been a longtime goal,” Sheldon junior catcher Kinley Pappas said. “This means so much. At the beginning of the season, we got together and said, ‘Guys, we’re going to state.’ This has been the goal all along, so achieving it is just so special.”

“This was awesome. It’s great to see a dream come true,” said Burnham, who had 17 strikeouts in getting the pitching victory. “Since Day 1, we all showed up and said, ‘Hey, we think we have a chance.’ And then we went out and did it.”

With the win, its 12th in a row, Sheldon finished the season 30-1. The victory also gave the Irish their first state title since 2019.

“That’s so important,” Peterson said. “It’s important to me because we fought so hard for it. To finish off a season like this, it’s just so exciting.”

“We worked hard for this, and it’s nice to have it show,” Burnham said.

“I think we’re just a really tight-knit team, and we all work together,” Pappas said of the key to the championship season. “We all always want to go to practice, we all want to be together. It was just that common goal, that common drive.”

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Oregon City, which was edged in 10 innings by Tigard in the 2022 state championship game, ended its season 27-4.

“The season was really fun,” Oregon City senior second baseman Allyson Nordling said. “We did really well as a whole unit. We put our bats together and also made some great defensive plays.”

“We had a really successful season,” Oregon City junior pitcher Lily Riley said. “Our season was action-packed. We won some close games, in Pioneer fashion. We just know how to make it exciting. There’s no other team like this one. I’m very proud of my team.”

Riley and Burnham locked up in a classic pitchers duel right from the start of the sun-soaked championship contest.

Riley, in fact, had a perfect game through six innings, while Burnham recorded 15 strikeouts through the first six.

“Those are the best two pitchers in Oregon,” Peterson said.

Riley had plenty of help from her defense in those six perfect innings. Senior shortstop Gina Allen made some key plays early, making a running catch in shallow left field on one play and fielding a hard grounder in the hole by second base on another. Junior center fielder Chloe Grimmer showed her range, running down a couple of line drives toward left-center field, and Nordling made a reaching catch in shallow right field.

“There’s really no other defense like our defense,” Riley said. “It’s really nice. It takes the pressure off to have a defense like we do. I have my full trust in them, and it’s really fun to be on the field with them, knowing they’ll make the plays.”

The Pioneers also had the only serious scoring threat in the first six innings, putting two runners on base in the top of the sixth.

Senior Lily Pastor got things started in the frame with a two-out ground single to center field. Allen followed with an infield single, diving full-out to get to first base right before Sheldon junior first baseman Ashlyn Martin could touch the bag, with Pastor getting to third base on the play.

But Burnham coaxed an inning-ending ground ball, with Irish junior second baseman Kylee Resides making the clutch play.

“I had confidence in my defense, and I knew I just had to throw it and get a ground ball,” Burnham said.


Sheldon entered the bottom of the seventh inning still looking for its first base runner. That’s when the opportunistic Peterson got things started. With one out in the inning, and facing an 0-2 count, Peterson was hit by a pitch.

“I was so excited, but it hurt really bad,” Peterson said. “It hit me right here (above the right wrist). It was a rise ball, so it wasn’t her fastest pitch, but it didn’t feel that great. But I was more excited just to be on, so I was like, ‘Let’s go!’”

And she was confident her teammates were going to do just that.

“I knew we had Meara coming up, and I knew she was going to do something,” Peterson said. “I was stealing — that’s why I got a good jump. The bobble saved me.”

What Sain did was, with Peterson stealing on the pitch, put down a bunt toward the left side. A bouncing throw and a bobble at first base allowed Peterson to keep going — and wow, did she ever keep going. She bumped into Riley, who was covering third base on the play, and, with no hesitation, kept running toward home plate. Peterson was ruled to be thrown out at home plate, and Sain was then thrown out at second by Oregon City junior catcher Reese Gardner for an apparent inning-ending double play.

But Peterson knew better.

“I knew I was going to get the obstruction call,” Peterson said. “She was right in the way, and I couldn’t get to the base. I just hit her on the way around, and I knew the umpire saw it. I know the rules of obstruction, when if you try to advance, you’re going to be ruled safe. Even though I was called out, I knew that, because I tried, that I was going to be safe.”

She was right.

After a discussion between the three umpires, obstruction was called, Peterson’s run counted, and the Irish started celebrating a state championship.

“We saw obstruction at third, so we all ran out. We kind of knew what was going to happen,” Pappas said. “You saw Brooke on that base path. She wasn’t going to stop until she got home. And I think we all just wanted it so bad.”

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“It was the right timing, and I just happened to know the rule. I know that because I’m a third baseman. I know not to get in the way for that specific reason. I saw the opportunity, and I was like, ‘I know what to do,’” Peterson said. “I knew I was going to be safe. As soon as I saw her, I knew that we had just won.”

“When they said, ‘Out,’ I was like, ‘Hey, that’s obstruction.’ I was confused, so I was like, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to fight and go into extras,’” Burnham said. “Then, they called it, and we were really excited.”

And, just maybe, a tiny bit relieved.

“I was scared for my life,” Pappas said with a laugh. “If we had to play one more inning ... I don’t know if I could wait that long.”

Meanwhile, Oregon City had to deal with a cruel change of emotions on the play.

“It went from happy to really frustrated, really fast,” Nordling said. “We didn’t think they’d overturn a play like that. But there’s nothing we can do.”

Burnham, in getting the pitching victory, allowed five hits while striking out 17 and walking just one.

“She was great,” Pappas said. “I haven’t seen her pitch that well in a long time, and she’s a great pitcher. My hand was hurting after that.”

“My defense made some great plays behind me,” Burnham said.


While the Irish didn’t have any hits in the contest, it had something better — a hard-fought state championship.

“We just won state, and I’m so excited. It means all the hard work we put in all season finally paid off,” Peterson said. “I wish we could have got through against their pitcher from the beginning, but she’s a good pitcher. It was really fun just to be here. I’m glad it ended that way.”

“It was really fun,” Pappas said. “It’s scary. We usually score in the first couple of innings, so to not do that and come through in the end was really special.”

“It was just a high-intensity, high-energy game,” Burnham said. “We were excited and wanted to take in the moment. We wanted to take it inning by inning, pitch by pitch, and see what happens.”

For Oregon City, Riley threw a complete-game no-hitter, giving up just the one unearned run while striking out nine and walking none.

“I felt really good out there,” she said. “Reese Gardner, my catcher, it’s always a fun time with her. We always have a good time out there.”

Allen went 2 for 3 for the Pioneers, while Castor, sophomore Ellie Joseph and junior Taylor Alexander each had one hit.

“Today, we were all unstoppable everywhere,” Nordling said. “I mean, our pitcher, Lily, threw a no-hitter. She was awesome, and we backed her up. It was an unfortunate way to lose.”

With Oregon City losing just three players to graduation, and with Sheldon losing only one, there’s already talk of a championship game rematch next year.

“I hope it’s the same next year,” Peterson said.

“That would be the goal next year,” Riley said. “We’re losing some vital players. That was the hard part about today.”

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