by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha rightfielder Cidney Marshall and first baseman Lexi Wahlstrom celebrate Marshalls key defensive stop in the second inning against McMinnville.

The second time through the lineup, Aloha can be decisively deadly.

After starting their preseason finale against McMinnville relatively hushed with two hits and one run through three innings, the Warriors turned over the batting order and went about beating down the Grizzlies.

Supplied with enough knowledge of how the Grizzlies’ starting pitcher wanted to shell them from the circle, Aloha scored three runs in the fourth (all with two outs), and two more in the fifth to chase McMinnville’s ace out of the contest for a 6-1 win on Friday.

The hitting upkeep was contagious in both deciding stanzas as the Warriors were able to string together three or four base knocks to prolong the innings and get extra runs on the board.

Tending a 1-0 lead with two outs in the fourth and Lexi Wahlstrom on second base, sophomore catcher Mackenzie Sibert salted a single to center. Wahlstrom, running on contact, skirted around third and slid safely ahead of the relay throw to give Aloha a 2-0 lead.

Nika King kept the fourth going with an infield single, then senior right-handed outfielder Ali Locke went the opposite way for an RBI to extend the lead to 3-0. Courtney Coombs’ RBI single to center scored King and padded the advantage to 4-0.

“Rallies are the best,” said Locke. “Just going up after a couple of people have gotten good hits, you’re all pumped and ready to go. Then, you get a great hit and the feeling’s just awesome. We’ve been a pretty good hitting team ever since I’ve been here. And, I believe we can carry it on through the season.”

“Our bats adjusted and that’s what got everything going,” added Sibert. “I think that’s going to be the case for the rest of the season. If we can get our bats going, we’re going to be OK.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior shortstop Michelle Silva tries to glove a relay throw in the sixth inning against McMinnville.

Originally, Locke said, Aloha was sort of looping through its swings rather than taking a direct line to the pitch. Once the Warriors’ realized McMinnville’s pitcher was faster than what’d they’d seen this year, Aloha went straight to the ball instead of taking its time getting its swings around. Wahlstrom said Aloha’s outbreak was all about timing and staying in front of the softball.

With no outs in the fifth, Wahlstrom waxed a single to center that scored two, and gave Coombs a 6-0 lead in the circle.

“To be honest, I just went out there to hit,” said Wahlstrom who went three-for-three with three RBIs. “I tried to clear my mind of everything, stop focusing on mechanics and just wanted to hit the ball.”

The Warriors’ gush of runs might not have come to fruition without the right arm of rightfielder Cidney Marshall and the flexibility of Wahlstrom at first base. In the top of the second with two outs, the game deadlocked at 0-0 and a runner on third, McMinnville slapped a base hit to right that seemed destined to score the go-ahead run. Yet, Marshall gloved the ball cleanly in shallow right, set her feet and came up firing to Wahlstrom at first. The throw was an on-target seed that Wahlstrom stretched out for and caught to take away a run from McMinnville and exterminate the inning.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha second baseman Emily Powers looks back a runner to third after getting an out versus McMinnville.

“That was really important,” said Wahlstrom of Marshall’s play. “If they got another run to tie it up, I think it would’ve dropped our confidence a little bit or put a lot of stress on us. That was a great play.”

“Our defense is definitely one of our strong suits,” added Sibert. “It’s something we can always rely on no matter how our hitting is going. Mostly on defense, it’s about getting into a rhythm, making sure we’re reacting and anticipating.”

Coombs was effective navigating a small strike zone, and let her defense do the dirty work behind her. Silva, Shelby Radcliffe and Emily Powers all held down the infield defensively, scooping up grounders and making tough-angled throws on the move that kept McMinnville in check.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha junior first baseman Lexi Wahlstrom reaches out for a throw from rightfielder Cidney Marshall.

“This game, we came really focused and ready to play,” said Locke. “That helped out a lot with not having a lot of errors.”

Winners of six straight, Aloha’s not focused on its Metro opponents as league play kicks off this week, Sibert and Wahlstrom said.

On Monday against Westview, in their Metro opener the Warriors dropped a 1-0 decision.

“If we play our game, we won’t have problems,” added Sibert. “If we stay solid in the field and get our bats going, we’ll be fine.”

“I’ve been confident about this team since the beginning of the season,” added Locke. “Even from tryouts I could see the talent on the team. We’re really starting to come together as a team and become one team. We’re all really close. That helps when we’re out on the field, and even up to bat, just being able to cheer for each other and give each other positive energy. If anyone’s down, we pick them up.”

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