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The Crusaders' junior pitcher Ainsley Davis strikes out 10 Mavericks in the victory.

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Jesuit High School freshman Ainsley Davis gets ready to make a pitch to the plate during the Crusaders' game with Tualatin., Times - Sports The Crusaders score a 5-3 victory in the match-up of two of the state's top squads Jesuit rallies to top Tualatin in softball battleHeading into their Wednesday, April 28, Metro League softball showdown at Mountainside, no one had to tell Jesuit junior pitcher Ainsley Davis about a Mavericks offense that was averaging 14.0 runs during a six-game winning streak.

"We've been watching them, and they've been scoring a lot of runs," Davis said. "We were like, 'We've got to score first. We've got to jump on this team right away, and execute pitch by pitch.'"

That's exactly how it played out for the Crusaders (8-0, 5-0), who scored the first five runs and coasted to an 8-2 win behind Davis, who scattered seven hits and struck out 10 to keep the explosive Mavericks (7-2, 4-1) in check.

"Going in, I was feeling a little bit nervous," Davis said. "It was a little bit more competition than we've faced in the last couple weeks. It definitely tested me a little bit mentally. It got me to push myself to execute. I'm feeling really good about the win."

Davis has started every game this season for Jesuit. In 43 2/3 innings, she has given up 35 hits, struck out 56 and has an ERA of 2.40.

"She's been pitching well," Jesuit coach Jim Speciale said. "There are a couple pitches she's getting away with because she's keeping it low. From her freshman year to her junior year, she's done an outstanding job."

Jesuit scored eight runs on 10 hits against Mountainside freshman Izzy Enright. Senior Ellie McClaskey went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs, freshman Mary Cunningham ripped a two-run homer and Davis and junior Georgia Corey each had two hits and an RBI.

It was the first home run of the season for McClaskey, who is batting .545 with a team-high 12 RBIs.

"I just want to get a good last season, where I know we all just tried our hardest, just to see how far we can make it," said McClaskey, who has played on varsity since her freshman year. "We lost a lot of good players, but we also gained a lot of good new players. I just want to test the full potential of this team."

Speciale likes what he has seen from McClaskey, one of two seniors in the starting lineup, the other being third baseman Madi Mayhew, who has signed with Hardin-Simmons University.

"Ellie's been playing like a senior that goes, 'We're not playing for a state championship or a Metro League championship, I just want to go out and have fun,'" Speciale said. "She's playing relaxed. She's had some back problems, but she's fought through it."

After making the second round of the 6A playoffs in its first varsity season in 2019, Mountainside was eager to take another step in 2020 behind college-bound seniors Kacie Schmidt (Oregon Tech) and Cassidy Kachnik (Academy of Art). The canceled season was a major setback for the Mavericks.

"It was a really big year because we had such a good group of seniors," coach Jacy Jukkala said. "It was like, back to ground zero."

With only one senior on the roster this season – starting right fielder Kristin Isenhart – Mountainside has started to regain some traction. The Mavericks dropped their opener to Tigard 9-2 but found a groove during the six-game winning streak.

Junior third baseman Addison Kachnik is leading a dynamic offense. She entered Wednesday's game hitting .536 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs and went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.

"Through my career I've had some pretty darn good D-I hitters, and she's up there with them," Jukkala said. "Ninety-percent of the time she doesn't get cheated on an at-bat. That's what I appreciate about her the most. She goes up there looking for something to hit."

Kachnik also is developing into a leader.

"The girls really look up to her because they know what a great player she is," Jukkala said. "She learned from her sister, and now she can bring that."

Mountainside also is getting plenty of offense from sophomore shortstop Ashley Goodale (.696, 17 runs, nine stolen bases) and junior catcher Lizzy Bradford (.500, four doubles, 14 RBIs).

Junior center fielder Megan Landes had the Mavericks' biggest hit Wednesday, belting a solo homer to left field to lead off the fourth inning.

Jesuit went on to defeat Barlow 5-1 in a nonleague game Friday, April 30, while Mountainside rebounded from their loss to the Crusaders by defeating Southridge 13-7.

Jerry Ulmer is a writer for OSAA Today


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