The Cougars combine to hit seven round-trippers in consecutive conference wins over Clackamas, Lakeridge and Lake Oswego.

by: JEFF GOODMAN / FILE - Sophomore outfielder Haley Conroy, shown during a game against Lake Oswego last season, hit a home run April 25 as the Canby softball team defeated Lakeridge 14-4 on the road.Maybe it’s time to stop calling them the Cougars and start calling them the Crushers.

After stumbling through its first three regular-season games in a week that included two one-run losses, the Canby softball team roared back into its conference race with a phenomenal stretch of power hitting.

In consecutive wins over Clackamas, Lakeridge and Lake Oswego, the Cougars combined to blast seven home runs as they racked up a whopping 31 runs.

With nine Three Rivers League games remaining, they were in a three-way tie with Lakeridge and Clackamas for third place in the standings.

“Coming in, I knew we had kids who could hit the long ball,” first-year coach Mike Higgins said. “We’re going to get our opportunities. As long as they’re doing what they need to do situationally, there are times where if we get a pitch we can handle to drive, we’re going for it.”

Their surge started April 23 against Clackamas at Hood View Park in Happy Valley, where senior shortstop Gina Bond smacked a two-run homer in the third inning of a 3-0 triumph to complement junior teammate Aunika Turner’s five-hit shutout in the circle.

“She’s more of a line-drive hitter, but she has tremendous power,” Higgins said. “That ball was not more than two inches above the fence, but it was moving. It was a missile.”

Bond, who also had a two-run shot to lead Canby (11-5, 3-3 in the TRL) past third-ranked Tualatin in its preseason finale, was recently named a finalist for the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year award.

But Bond, who will continue her softball career at Oregon State, has had plenty of company during the Cougars’ recent rash of round-trippers.

Turner and sophomores Haley Conroy and Sarah Bizon all went yard in the team’s 14-4 drubbing of Lakeridge in five innings on the road April 25, when Canby scored 10 runs in the last frame to overpower a team that defeated it 11 days earlier.

“The ball Aunika hit is the longest one I’ve seen in a long time in high school softball,” Higgins said. “She’s doing a good job of keeping her hands back and letting the ball travel to her power spot. It was really a shot.”

Turner also pitched the entire game against the Pacers and tallied six RBI to go along with three hits. Bond added three hits and Bizon finished with three RBI.

Trailing 4-2 at the end of the third inning, the Cougars tied the game with two runs in the fourth to set up their offensive outburst in the fifth.

Canby finished its extraordinary week with a 14-8 win over Lake Oswego in which Turner, senior Colleen Crutchfield and junior Kaelynn Miller all notched home runs.

Inclement weather forced the game, which started April 21, to resume April 26 in the bottom of the third inning.

That turned out to be the fertile frame for the Cougars, who plated 10 runs to take a 12-5 lead into the fourth inning.

Turner and Miller each amassed three hits and four RBI in the game to spark Canby’s offensive performance. The effort also featured two RBI by Crutchfield, who will continue her career at the University of Mary.

Turner posted four strikeouts during five innings in the circle against the Lakers. Elizabeth Castro pitched the other two innings as the Cougars recovered from a frustrating 0-3 start to the regular season.

“We were snakebit in that first week,” Higgins said. “So to come in and play well, and play like we’re capable of, was really good.”

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