Sunset knocks off first-place Wildcats for first league win

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Sunset third baseman Renee Crick tags out Westview's Christina Uhl during the second inning Monday at Westview High School.ROCK CREEK — On paper, it was a match-up between the best softball team in the Metro League and the worst softball team in the Metro League.

When Sunset High traveled to Westview High on Monday, few would have given the Apollos much of a chance. Sunset was last place on the table with a 0-9 league mark and a 2-16 record overall. Westview (7-2, 11-8) was first in the Metro standings.

For one day, though, the tables turned. It was gritty, it was hard fought and it nearly slipped out from their fingertips, but Sunset earned its first Metro League win of the season, 4-3 against Westview.

“It means a lot,” Sunset coach Spencer Mills said. “It was getting that monkey off our back. I don’t know how it got on there, but we got it off our back. We gave our girls a chance to feel success.”

Sunset went into the top half of the seventh inning with the score tied at 3. Dakota Stewart began the rally when she doubled to left field with one out. Stewart was replaced by pinch runner Katie Dierickx. That brought Dakota Stewart’s sister Jade Stewart to the plate.

With two strikes, Jade Stewart got a pitch to hit on the outer third and drove the ball to right field for a standup triple that brought Dierickx across the plate with the game winning run.

“I wasn’t very happy about the second strike because it was clearly in the other batter’s box,” Jade Stewart said. “But, my teammates told me to have confidence, so I had confidence and found a pitch that I could hit.”

During the first four innings, Sunset could not buy any luck as Westview pitcher Abby Greer dodged bullet after bullet.

In the top half of the first inning, Sunset’s first two runners reached base on a walk and an error then advanced to second and third with one out. Greer then struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning unscathed.

In the top half of the second inning, Sunset’s Maddie Jaekel doubled off the left field wall with one out. Greer was once again able to avoid watching runners cross the plate by fanning the final two batters of the inning.

Greer got out of another pickle in the third inning. Dakota Stewart began the inning with a leadoff double to center field. Stewart then advanced to third on a passed ball. After a walk and a conceded base, Sunset had runners at second and third with no outs.

Greer struck out the next batter for the first out of the inning. Sunset’s Renee Crick then tried to bunt. She got the ball down but within the reach of Westview catcher Katie Whetstine. Whetstine picked the ball up and tagged Crick out at the plate. Greer then got another strikeout to end the inning.

In the top of the fourth inning, Sunset’s Ashley Harrison reached first on a leadoff single. The runner was eventually erased when pinch runner Katie Dierickx was thrown out trying to steal second.

“For the most part, we had good pitching and pretty good defense,” Westview coach Ronda McKenzie said, of her team’s ability to avert disaster during the first four innings.

The Wildcats ran themselves out of the first two innings. They put runners on base in both frames, before they were caught stealing by Sunset catcher Harrison.

Westview finally got on the board in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Whetstine began things off with a two-out single on a sharp ground ball down the first baseline. Christina Uhl then sent a soaring fly ball to left field. The ball went into the Sunset left fielder’s glove and bounced out, allowing Whetstine to come around and score.

In the top of the fifth inning, Westview’s luck finally ran out. Sunset loaded the bases with one out. Dakota Stewart then scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch. With two outs, Anna ApRoberts singled to right field to bring in two more runs and give Sunset a 3-1 lead.

“I saw the ball and tried to drive it to the opposite field,” ApRoberts said. “I knew that my teammates would score.”

ApRoberts also got the win, allowing one earned run in seven innings.

“I just rocked back and fired on every pitch,” ApRoberts said.

Westview tied the game up in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Wildcats put runners on the corners with two outs, before scoring a run on a wild pitch and then another run on an error by Sunset’s second baseman.

After the game, McKenzie was quite unimpressed with Westview’s performance.

“They need to play as a unit,” McKenzie said. “They need to work hard and believe in each other, and they need to battle for seven innings.”

Mills said Sunset took a giant step toward being a competitive team once the playoffs roll around.

“Our goal is 1 percent better everyday, and by the end of the season, to be ready to compete in the playoffs,” Mills said. “That’s what we’re doing.”

On Wednesday, Sunset was scheduled to play at Jesuit, and Westview was scheduled to travel to Aloha. Results of those games weren’t available when The Times went to press.

On Friday, Sunset will play at Southridge, and Westview will host Jesuit in 5 p.m. Metro League games. On Monday, Westview will be home to face Beaverton, and Sunset will travel to Aloha for 5 p.m. league contests.

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