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Softball team wins battle for first place

Sandy overcomes early deficit to blow out Wilsonville 10-2


by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Chelsea Spanier slides into third base. Something foreign and unusual happened to the Sandy softball against Wilsonville on Tuesday – it fell behind in a game. The Pioneers didn’t particularly care for that feeling too much.

Sandy scored 10 unanswered runs after allowing one run in the top of the first inning to hammer Wilsonville, 10-2, in the battle of Northwest Oregon Conference unbeatens.

The Wildcats came out swinging to put early pressure on pitcher Sammie Byron and the Sandy defense. Wilsonville worked two infield singles and a grounder up the middle to load the bases. A third infield single by catcher Rebecca Ollison brought home the runner from third base to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.

It was the first time in weeks that the Pioneers were losing at any point in a softball game, but they didn’t panic. If anything, the one-run deficit served as a wake-up call.

“We had to trust Sammie,” Sandy catcher Rachel Rutledge said. “She is an amazing pitcher and we had to get it in our heads that that was nothing.”

Immediately following the RBI-single by Ollison, Byron struck out the next batter on three pitches and didn’t allow another base runner until the fifth inning.

“Our defense was unreal in that inning,” Sandy coach Kellie Wilkerson said. “They had multiple hits that we dove for and got to, or it could have been more runs. Sammie was great that inning. She did her job. Then we came back and did our job with the bats.”

In the bottom of the first inning, the Pioneers’ offense quelled any momentum Wilsonville thought it may have had. Center fielder Meghan Luebbert led off the inning by bouncing a slow grounder to second baseman Kayleah Starr. In an effort to get the speedy Luebbert, Starr rushed the throw and threw it away. Luebbert moved to second base on the error.

Molly Nutt laid down a bunt to advance Luebbert to third, beat out the throw to first and then stole second base. With two runners in scoring position, Chelsea Spanier cracked a single into left field and Luebbert walked home.

Spanier’s single tied the game, but the next play was the one that demoralized Wilsonville.

Rutledge stepped in and received the sign for a suicide squeeze. Rutledge got the bunt down, but Ollison picked it up quickly and turned to tag out Nutt. Nutt slid to the backside of the plate and leaned away from Ollison to avoid the tag. At the last moment, Nutt swiped the plate with her left hand to score.

While the play at the plate was unfolding, Spanier took third base which had been vacated by the charging third baseman. When Wilsonville’s middle infielders turned their attention to Spanier, Rutledge took second.

“We work on base-running and sliding in every practice, as much as we can,” Wilkerson said. “We focus on those small things every day.”

Spanier and Rutledge scored when Cheyenne Baker doubled off the fence in left-center to cap a four-run first inning. The Pioneers added at least one run in each of the next four innings to steal all hope away from the Wildcats.

Sandy finished with 17 hits and six different players at least two base hits. Nutt, Rutledge and Presley Turin all had three. Spanier and Baker each had two hits and three RBIs.