The senior pitcher strikes out 12 and hits a two-run homer

by: JIM NEWTON - PERFECT PITCHER -- Aloha senior Kiana Wood gets ready to fire a pitch to the plate during her perfect-game performance against Southridge.BEAVERTON — If only she had been able to sell popcorn between innings, Aloha High School pitcher Kiana Wood could have left the Jesuit High softball field last Thursday night knowing she had done absolutely everything.

As it was, Wood had to settle for simply doing everything on the diamond.

The senior left-hander was dazzling on the mound, giving up no runs, two hits, no walks and striking out 12 through seven innings of work. Then, in the fourth inning, Wood hit a two-run home run that was all the Warriors needed to top Jesuit 2-0 in a Metro League contest.

“That’s her best pitching so far,” Aloha coach Steve Reynolds said. “She was on. Her balls were moving. She was focused. She made adjustments. That was the name of the game.”

With the victory, Aloha moved to 6-3 in Metro League play and to 11-6 on the season, at that point. Jesuit moved to 6-3 in league and 13-7 overall.

Wood began last Thursday’s game at Jesuit by sitting down the first 12 Crusader batters.

“All my pitches were working,” she said.

Jesuit pitcher Kory Oleson said the Crusaders should have done a better job of adjusting at the plate.

“We had to get a better approach,” Oleson said. “We were making good contact, but we needed to adjust to the umpire because he was giving them the outside.”

Wood’s perfect game was finally broken up in the top of the fifth when Jessica Wyatt led off the inning with a single on a screaming ground ball back up the box.

Losing the perfect game lit a fire beneath Wood, though.

“It just made me want to work harder so they wouldn’t get another hit,” Wood said.

Wyatt stole second base to move into scoring position with one out. Wood gutted up in a big way, though. She got all three outs of the inning herself with her sixth, seventh and eighth strikeout of the afternoon.

Oleson matched Wood for the first three innings, retiring the first nine Aloha batters she faced.

“I was thinking, ‘Get ahead with first pitch strikes because you can’t get behind on them,’ ” Oleson said.

Oleson got into trouble in the top half of the fourth inning, though. Michele Silva began the inning with a leadoff double in the left-center-field gap. Katie Newton bunted Silva over to third. Wood then sent a bomb over the right field fence to put Aloha up 2-0.

“The pitch was inside, and I was working really hard at our hitting facility to hit inside pitches,” Wood said. “I got one. It felt great.”

After conceding a two-out walk, Oleson was able to get out of the inning and stop the bleeding.

Remarkably, the fourth frame was the only inning that Oleson did not retire the side in order. In seven innings of work, she allowed two earned runs, two hits, one walk and had two strikeouts.

“The fourth inning was a tough inning,” Oleson said. “It was just a couple of hits at the wrong time.”

The Crusaders last real chance to get on the scoreboard came in the bottom half of the sixth inning.

Wood started the inning by striking out the first two batters.

With two outs, Oleson reached first on a swinging-slap-bunt that cleared the head of the Warriors third baseman by mere centimeters. Oleson was stranded at first, though, when Wood recorded her 11th strikeout of the game.

Wood then finished the game by retiring the side in the bottom half of the seventh inning.

“I pushed myself to just not give up,” Wood said.

Oleson said the Crusaders will be able to move past the loss quickly.

“It’s disappointing,” Oleson said. “But we’ll bounce back. We’re a great team. You just can’t win if you don’t score a run. You’ve got to get on the board.”

Reynolds said the win could help the Warriors build momentum that they can take with them the rest of the season.

“This was a momentum-builder,” Reynolds said. “We have to continue to make adjustments and do all the things correctly. You build on games like this.”

Aloha followed up the victory at Jesuit by posting a 1-0 home win against Southridge in a league game played on Monday. The Warriors moved to 7-3 in league games with the win.

Wood again stepped up big, as she pitched a perfect game in the win over the Skyhawks.

Jesuit bounced back to score a 7-4 win at Beaverton on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Jesuit was set to host Sunset, and Aloha was scheduled to play at Westview. Results of those games weren’t available when the Valley Times went to press.

On Friday, Aloha will play at Beaverton, and Jesuit will play at Westview in 5 p.m. league contests.

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