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Crook County shuts out Molalla 10-0

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Cowgirls score six first-inning runs, then cruise to victory over short-handed Indians

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Ashley Owens drives in a run with one of her three hits against the Molalla Indians on Friday. Crook County won the game 10-0, clinching the league championship.

The Crook County Cowgirls rebounded from their first league loss of the season to take a 10-0 win over the Molalla Indians on Friday.

"You have to learn how to lose before you can really win," Crook County head coach Jessica Cross said following the game. "I think that loss is going to light a fire under the girls, and it's going to drive them because they want more."

The visiting Indians were playing short-handed as several of their players were competing in the state choir competition.

"It was very difficult," Molalla head coach Dawn Wade said. "We tried to reschedule it two weeks ago and they said no, so it was tough coming in here with our JV and varsity together today."

The Cowgirls took advantage of the situation, scoring six first-inning runs as they took control of the game.

Leadoff hitter Abby Dalton singled, then went to second on an error. LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Brittni Callahan picks up one of her two hits in the Indians' loss to Crook County on Friday.

Molalla starting pitcher Grace Nelzen struck out the next batter she faced before giving up consecutive doubles to Aspen Christiansen and McKuenzie McCormick.

Trailing 2-0, the Indians were able to get the second out of the inning before the Cowgirls went on a tear. Emma Ackley doubled, scoring the third run of the inning. Then, a hustling Ashley Owens beat out an infield single as Ackley went to third.

Owens stole second, and an alert Ackley sprinted for home on the throw. Caitlyn Elliott then hit a triple down the left field line, scoring Owens. Kalyn Martinez singled to right to keep the inning alive before Dalton picked up her second single of the inning.

Molalla finally got out of the inning, but the damage had already been done.

"Yesterday's practice was just so much more focused than they have been in a couple of weeks, and today, they came out with a goal and a new focus on what they wanted out of this game. They showed up in the first inning and really hit the ball."

Crook County starting pitcher McCormick was in control throughout the game, striking out seven and allowing just four hits in five innings of work.

The Cowgirls continued their offensive barrage in the second inning as they added four more runs to put the game away.

Christiansen and McCormick singled to start the inning before Ackley doubled scoring a pair of runs. Owens doubled, scoring Ackley, then scored on a Martinez ground out to short.

After struggling offensively in the previous two games, the Cowgirls offense was in high gear against the Indians.

"We did some hitting yesterday," Cross said. "We've been struggling with this speed pitcher, so we spent some time talking about relaxing in the box and seeing the ball come into our contact zone - where we want to make contact with the ball and not giving in to the pitcher so much."

Then, with the big lead, the Cowgirls began to substitute, eventually emptying their bench.

With the Cowgirls going to their bench and the Molalla defense settling down, the remainder of the game was a pitcher's dual as Crook County emptied their bench and Molalla shored up their defense.

"That's one thing about our team," Wade said. "They never give up. We are usually the underdog, so they've gotten used to that, so it's fun for them when they do start off behind to do whatever they can to try to come back and take the game."

The Cowgirls finished with 12 hits in the game, including four doubles and a triple. Owens was three-for-three with a double, while Dalton, Christiansen, McCormick and Ackley all had multiple hits.

Meanwhile, Molalla managed just six baserunners in the game, with Brittni Callahan and Amanda Wendell each picking up a pair of hits.

The Indians did manage to get a baserunner to third base in the third inning as Callahan singled, stole second, and went to third on a wild pitch. However, McCormick struck out the final out of the inning to get out of the jam.

With the win, the Cowgirls improved their record to 12-1 in the Tri-Valley Conference and 16-5 overall. More importantly, the win clinched the league championship - the first softball league championship in school history.

Meanwhile, the Indians fell to 1-11 in conference play and 5-12 overall.

The Indians finish their season with home games Monday and Tuesday against Madras and Estacada (6-6, 11-11) followed by a Thursday game at Corbett (3-9, 5-15).

The Cowgirls close out the regular season with a game Tuesday at second-place Gladstone (9-3, 15-5), followed by a home game Thursday against Madras (5-6, 10-10).

Crook County 10, Molalla 0

At Crook County

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Crook County 640 0x - 10 14 1