Forest Grove falls to No. 1-ranked Glencoe but rebounds with a crucial league victory

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove sophomore Emily Peters delivers a pitch during the Lady Vikings' Pacific Conference softball game against Glencoe last Friday. Forest Grove lost 8-1 but bounced back on Monday with a crucial 1-0 victory over Newberg.In a showdown of two well-regarded Pacific Conference softball squads, Forest Grove did not flinch in last Friday’s road game at Glencoe, scoring a run in the first inning for an early lead.

But the Lady Vikings could not build on that advantage, and the Crimson Tide offense heated up for seven runs in the second and third innings en route to an 8-1 victory.

That loss for the Vikings — which came against a Glencoe squad that sat atop the Class 6A rankings at the time — coupled with a 1-0 win against Newberg on Monday, moved Forest Grove to 9-5 overall and 2-2 in the Pacific Conference.

The Lady Viks sit tied for fourth place in the conference heading into today’s game against McMinnville.

“We started off real well. They’re a good team and Katie’s a really good pitcher,” Forest Grove coach Trevor Tusow said about Glencoe ace Katie Sutherland-Finch, a First Team All-State pitcher.

“And so you’ve got to take advantage of base runners when you get them, and we did a good job of that in the first inning. She got tougher as the game went on, and our hitters, we didn’t get tougher. We didn’t make our adjustments.”

Forest Grove’s early 1-0 lead came thanks to two of the seniors in the Vikings’ lineup. Molly Johnson reached base on an error, then stole second and advanced to third base on a passed ball before Alexis Richey brought her home with an RBI single over the shortstop’s head.

“It was kind of a higher pitch and it was kind of outside, and I pulled it the other way,” Richey said.

But that run proved to be all of the offense for Forest Grove, which suffered 19 strikeouts at the hands of Sutherland-Finch.

“She’s a smart pitcher and she throws the ball well and she understands what hitters are doing,” Tusow said. “And if they’re not making adjustments, she’s going to eat you alive.”

In fact, Sutherland-Finch and the rest of the Glencoe defense forced the Lady Vikings to go three-and-out in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings, while the Crimson Tide put up three runs of their own in the second, four in the third and one more in the fourth — the latter a home run blast by Sutherland-Finch.

While the Tide were able to get hits off of Forest Grove starter Shelby Turner and Emily Peters, who relieved Turner in the bottom of the third, the Vikings stymied their own cause with several mistakes — a ball bouncing off a glove here, a high throw there.

“Defensively, we were just flat,” Tusow said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of life in our defense and (we) gave them a couple extra outs, and a team with aggressive hitters like this, they’re going to take advantage of that.”

Forest Grove’s biggest scoring threat after the first inning came in the fourth when Richey drew a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch during Shelby Turner’s at-bat. After Turner struck out, Kira Hein advanced to first on a well-placed bunt that also moved Richey to third, and then Hein stole second during the next at-bat. But Sutherland-Finch pitched consecutive strikeouts to end the threat.

“As a coaching staff, we like the growth we’ve had. We’ve had some nice wins this season, but we’re not there yet,” Tusow said. “And we know that and the girls know that, but they know that they’re getting closer, and that’s the important thing. We’re always getting better.”

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