DRAIN — For the second time in three seasons, the North Douglas softball team will be playing for the state championship.
Nicki Derrick made sure of that.
The junior pitched a no-hitter and her two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning was the only scoring of the game as the ninth-seeded Warriors shut out No. 20 Lakeview, 2-0, on Tuesday in an OSAA Class 2A/1A semifinal at Howard’s Field.
North Douglas (27-3) will face No. 7 Kennedy (22-4) on Friday at the University of Oregon’s Jane Sanders Stadium. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.
It was a special moment for Derrick, who missed her sophomore softball season while recovering from an ACL injury suffered during basketball. She pitched the Warriors to their first state softball title as a freshman in 2017 and was selected the 2A/1A player and pitcher of the year.
“It means that all I went through is most definitely worth it, and it just makes it all sweeter,” she said with a grin. “Last year I questioned why it happened to me, but he came through with a plan.”
“It feels so good ... I don’t have any words for it,” added second baseman Riley Black, one of two seniors on the team. “Just real nice, especially since I’m a senior. I didn’t want the season to end yet — I want to enjoy every second I can.”
Derrick simply overpowered the Honkers (20-9), striking out 11 and walking three. The hard-throwing right-hander issued leadoff walks in the opening two innings, then got in a groove and went on to hurl her second straight shutout in the playoffs.
“I can definitely do better,” Derrick said. “Some of those illegal pitches are frustrating, but nothing that we can’t figure out. I just have to keep a clear mind when I’m pitching ... take a deep breath, settle in and just do what I do.
“There’s not a lot of people who can hit me, so I just have to relax.”
Lakeview coach Sam Damuth was impressed with Derrick.
“That pitcher is definitely the toughest one we’ve faced this year,” Damuth said. “She’s good, she’s quick. And the only runs on the board came on a good, solid hit (by Derrick). Nothing you can do to defend a home run.”
“Nicki was pretty excited there at the beginning,” North Douglas Jesse Rice said. “It’s the semifinals and I wasn’t surprised. The thing about Nicki, she walks one or two and she’ll come back. She has a way of not letting them get around those bases.”
Junior Alyson Yates took the loss for the Honkers, allowing four hits. The right-hander fanned seven and walked one — which was an intentional free pass to Derrick in the sixth.
Black was the only hitter with multiple hits, going 2-for-3. Hope Ward had an infield single in the fourth.
There were no errors committed by either team.
“I feel really good about the game,” Rice said. “We played solid defense. We had some hard hits that just didn’t get through, but we got the one that mattered. A 2-0 lead all through the game, it’s not much of a cushion but we held on to it.
“Lakeview was ranked 20th, but played like a top five team. Their pitcher (Yates) never got rattled, she pitched a really good game.”
Derrick’s blast to left field in the first came with two outs, scoring Black who had singled.
“I was looking for a fastball,” Derrick said. “She (Yates) didn’t really pitch anything spectacular, so I knew if she pitched it there it would be my pitch. I decided to wait and not get too excited over it and let loose.”
“Nicki brings that motivation and energy that we didn’t have last year,” Black said. “It’s good to have that when you’re wanting to go to state again.”
Black helped preserve Derrick’s no-hitter, fielding a grounder up the middle hit by Shelby Davidson and throwing her out at first in the fifth inning.
“I don’t know how I did that,” Black said of her play. “Just move my feet, be on my toes.”
Now the Warriors will set their sights on Kennedy, which eliminated No. 3 Toledo 7-1 in the semis. The two clubs are familiar with each other; North Douglas defeated the Trojans in the semifinals on their way to the 2017 crown and Kennedy whipped the Warriors in five innings in the quarterfinals last year en route to the championship.
“I’ve grown up watching the Ducks play at Jane Sanders,” Derrick said. “We always joke in a few years you’re going to be playing here. Now it’s like a dream come true, so I’m super excited to be playing at The Jane.”
Lakeview 000 000 0 — 0 0 0
N. Douglas 200 000 x — 2 4 0
Yates and Albertson; Derrick and S. Alcantar. WP — Derrick. LP — Yates. HR — Derrick (ND).