Ashley Culp comes in with the winning run during Putnam's 3-1 home win over Sandy

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Putnams Ashley Culp breaks from third base on her way to scoring the winning run in the sixth inning of Fridays 3-1 win over Sandy.Rex Putnam’s softball team kept its Northwest Oregon title hopes alive Friday with a 3-1 comeback win over reigning 5A champion Sandy.

The battle of top-10 teams was deadlocked 1-1 going into the sixth inning inning when each team made their move to claim victory.

Sandy had the first chance when Sammie Byron launched a long ball to left field. At first it appeared as if it was gone for a go-ahead home run, but the ball came to a stop with a thud halfway up the fence holding Byron to a double.

A fielding error allowed Presley Turin to get on base, and the Pioneers were one swing away from taking the lead.

But that hit was stolen away in the next at-bat when Putnam shortstop Elysia Webb snagged a hard-hit line drive off the bat of Hannah Holliday to keep the scoreboard frozen.

It wouldn’t stay that way for long.

Putnam’s Ashley Culp led off the bottom of the sixth with a three-hopper through the dirt that eluded a Sandy glove and ended up in the left-field grass.

“That was super important, I was doing anything I could to get on,” Culp said.

She didn’t stay at first for long, scooting around to third base in a matter of pitches.

“They have a great catcher, and I knew she was going to try to throw me out,” Culp said. “I was nervous, but I broke on her throw and stayed aggressive.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Putnams Hayley Dolfay takes a practice swing while viewing the sign during an at-bat.

Now, it was the Kingsmen with the winning run 60 feet away, and they wouldn’t waste the opportunity.

Maggie Waymire put the ball in play with a roller down the first-base line, and Culp raced across the plate well ahead of the throw. Sandy challenged for runner interference in the base path, but the umpire denied the request.

Putnam kept the pressure on when Brooke Snyder and Hayley Dolfay found their way on base, and teammate Sydney Nichols extended the margin with a RBI-double that fell just inside the right-field chalk.

Sandy never had a chance in its final at-bats with Putnam rookie pitcher Sarah Abramson striking out the side.

“I’m so proud of her — she was on fire out there,” Culp said.

Abramson struck out six straight earlier in the game.

Putnam plays at rival Milwaukie at 5 p.m. Wednesday before returning home to face Liberty at 5 p.m. Friday.

The Pioneers ended a scoreless game on a towering home run by Rachel Rutledge that cleared the left-field fence just in front of the scoreboard.

“Our seniors stepped up and kept us calm,” Culp said. “All season, we’ve talked about having a four-second memory and moving on. If we were going to win, we had to score anyway.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Putnam pitcher Sarah Abramson winds up for a throw during her 10-strikeout performance.

Putnam would get that first run on the board in the bottom of the fourth, setting the stage when Taylor Balfour and Culp pulled off a double steal to put runners at second and third. Waymire came up next and hit a sacrifice ground ball toward first base that allowed Balfour to race home.

View a photo gallery from the game at …

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