Gladstone rallies around Kirchem to add three more games to the win column

by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - La Salle freshman catcher Rylee Maben looks to throw down to second base after making the tag on Gladstones Molly Webster at the plate during the fourth inning of Fridays game with the Gladiators. The Falcons made the Gladiators work for their runs in a 3-1 Gladstone victory.The third-ranked Gladstone Gladiators are closing in on the Tri-Valley Conference softball title.

The Gladiators put three more games in the win column last week, as they upped their TVL record to 8-0 (16-1 overall) with wins over Madras (12-0), North Marion (5-0) and cross-town rival La Salle (3-1). Heading into play this week they were three games up on second-place Madras (9-9, 5-3), and they were riding a 10-game win string.

“One of the things that I’m really happy about is our defense,” said Gladstone coach Bruce Mortier. “We’ve got a .957 team fielding percentage, which is one of the better fielding percentages that we’ve seen in years.”

And, of course, the Gladiators have one of the better pitchers in the state in senior Megan Kirchem. Kirchem continued in great form last week, striking out 43 batters in 19 innings in the circle.

Kirchem was on fire in the April 28 five-inning game at Madras. The Gladiator ace made it 15-up and 15-down, as she struck out 13 of the 15 batters to face her in the 12-0 Gladiator win.

Her teammates played error-free defense behind her, with Melisa Campos collecting a pop fly at third base in the first frame, and shortstop Kat Kerr snagging a seeing-eye line drive, also in the first frame.

Kirchem had 12 straight strikeouts in the second, third, fourth and fifth frames. For the game, she threw 57 pitches and 44 of them were strikes.

It was the second perfect game of the 2014 season for Kirchem, who had the first perfect game of her high school career on April 7, facing 21 batters and striking out 14 in an 8-0 seven-inning win over Estacada.

Last week’s 12-0 shutout was called after five innings because of a league 10-run rule. The Gladiators had only seven hits in that game, but four walks and six Madras errors helped them build their winning tally.

Julia Schumaker (2-for-2, triple, 2 runs), Madi Mott (2-for-4, double, 3 RBI) and Kennedy Coy (2-for-2, 2 runs) were the leading hitters.

Her teammates didn’t have much work to do on April 30, as Kirchem struck out 18 batters in the 5-0 win over North Marion.

The Huskies reached the Gladiator ace for four hits, but she didn’t walk anyone, and Kirchem’s teammates supported her with error-free defensive play.

Gladstone took charge early, scoring four runs in the first two innings.

Schumaker led off the game with a double, Kirchem singled and Schumaker scored on a first-and-third steal.

Molly Webster, Kennedy Coy and Schumaker hit safely in a three-run second inning.

Schumaker (2-for-4, 2 runs) was the only Gladiator with multiple hits in a nine-hit offensive attack. Meghan Winkle and Kinzi McLeod both hit doubles.

Kirchem (12 strikeouts, one walk) threw a one-hitter in last Friday’s 3-1 win over La Salle.

La Salle junior Makenzie Cook led off the game with a home run over the fence in center field, but that was the Falcons’ only hit of the game.

La Salle’s second batter, Nicole Schreiber, reached on Gladstone’s only error. Kirchem and her teammates then retired the next 19 batters in a row.

La Salle senior Sydney Chvilicek reached on a walk with two down in the seventh, but she was the Falcons’ only other baserunner.

La Salle junior Loryn Williams (5 strikeouts, 2 walks, 6 hits) also pitched a decent game and made the Gladiators work for their three runs.

Gladstone scored two runs in the second inning on a walk, a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt and a two-run double by sophomore Kennedy Coy; and one run in the fifth, on base hits by Schumaker and Kirchem, and a run-scoring groundout by freshman Madi Mott.

Gladstone had home games scheduled with Estacada (4-15, 1-8) this afternoon and with Madras on Friday.

The Gladiators close out the regular season next week, with games with North Marion (9-7, 4-3), La Salle (13-7, 5-4) and Molalla (2-13, 1-6).

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