By Paul Valencia | For The Oregonian/OregonLive
CORVALLIS — The Tualatin Timberwolves felt the pressure, the significance of what they were trying to achieve.
They embraced that pressure, in fact.
“We’ve had a huge target on our backs,” senior Ella Hillier said. “Everyone wanted to be the first one to beat us. No one could.”
That is correct. No one.
Tualatin rallied from a two-run deficit to complete the perfect season, getting a walk-off victory Saturday in the Class 6A state championship game at Oregon State University.
Freshman Taylor Corcoran got the game-winning single, scoring Hillier from second base for a 4-3 victory over Clackamas.
Tualatin went 30-0 and became the first big-school program to go undefeated in Oregon since Churchill went 23-0 in 1992.
“That was an incredible moment for me,” Corcoron said. “So happy I could that for my seniors and my amazing team.”
She described it as “relief” when she saw her line drive land in right field.
“I was so, so excited,” she said.
“This was the one game we were all leading up to,” Corcoron added. “We were all ready to go.”
Hillier had three hits in the game and all three were needed to maintain perfection. She had a run-scoring single in the third inning. She led off the fifth inning with a single and came home on Emily Johansen’s two-run homer to tie the score.
“I just knew I had to come out and do it and get it done for my team,” Hillier said. “I felt really prepared. I knew what to execute. I knew what I had to do, and I got it done.”
In the seventh, it was Hillier again leading off with a single. She moved to second base on a hit by Taylor Alton, setting up Corcoron to win the state championship with her bat.
“It was beautiful,” Tualatin pitcher Megan Woodward said through tears.
Clackamas scored a run in the first, second and fourth innings to take a 3-1 lead. Woodward said she knew she had to stop the Cavaliers from scoring again.
“I knew what they could hit. I threw it where I knew they couldn’t,” Woodward said. “I was just hitting my spots, and I knew I had my team behind me.”
Johansen, playing first base, made a diving catch to end the fifth inning with two Clackamas runners on base.
Moments later, the score was tied on Johansen’s blast to straight center field.
“When you know, you know,” she said of hitting the sweet spot on her shot.
It was a line drive but it sailed over the fence.
“It felt amazing to do that for my team. That was just awesome,” Johansen said.
Even while celebrating the program’s second state title in the past four years, the Timberwolves also credited Clackamas for pushing them to the limit.
Alyssa Daniell had an RBI triple in the top of the first inning. Trinity Loeb crushed a solo home run in the second inning. Madison Stateler had a run-scoring single for the Cavaliers in the fourth inning for the 3-1 lead.
“Clackamas is such a good team. We definitely felt threatened,” Johansen said. “We knew this was going to be a fight.”
Loeb, in fact, ended up 3 for 3, adding a double to her home run. She said she had been in a slump in the playoffs.
“I’m happy this is the game that I performed in for my team,” Loeb said.
She said their coaches told them they had the talent to play for a state championship this season.
“We kind of didn’t believe until later on (in the season),” Loeb said.
Then the Cavaliers finished one win away from a title.
“We are proud of our season,” Loeb said. “Just not the outcome we wanted, of course.”
It was exactly the ending that Tualatin believed could happen.
“We put in the work day in and day out,” Johansen said.
Then the Timberwolves went to the final inning of the final game to complete a perfect season with a state championship.
“Best way to end,” Woodward said. “Nothing will top this.”