Behind the pitching of Shaye Pinner and power hitting from Sabrina Ward and Laila Bennett Gladstone dominates game

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Laila Bennett drives the ball to left field. Bennett had a home run and a double as the Gladstone Gladiators defeated the Crook County Cowgirls 8-1 Friday afternoon in Prineville.The Gladstone Gladiators drove into Prineville Friday night remembering an extra inning playoff loss last year.

Determined to make up for the disappointing end to last year's season an inspired Gladiator team took control early and never looked back as they defeated Crook County 8-1.

"it was pretty cool because obviously we wanted to win after the last time we were here," Gladstone starting pitcher Shaye Pinner said. "We know that they are big competitors to play against, so it was really nice to come here and play like we did and get the win."

The Gladiators took advantage of a pair of walks, a wild pitch and a passed ball to score a run in the first inning.

Crook County threatened in the bottom half of the inning, putting runners on second and third with just one out. However, Pinner forced Crook County cleanup batter Berkley Puckett into a pop out, then Emma Ackley flew out to left to end the scoring threat.

"It is so incredibly disappointing," Ackley said of the loss. "You want to be a leader for your team and lead them to a win and you can't even hit on the pitcher."

Gladstone struck again in the second inning putting a runner in scoring position on a Crook County error and a sacrifice bunt before Sabrina Ward ripped a double off the left field fence scoring the Gladiators second run of the game.

Pinner struck out the side in order in the second inning, as she asserted her dominance. She went on to strike out 12 Crook County batters in the game.

"It's always good to strike out batters, but I've got me team behind me anyways," she said.

The Gladiators took complete control of the game in the third inning as Emily Clinkscales singled up the middle, then advanced to second on a Crook County error before Laila Bennett blasted a home run over the left field fence to give Gladstone a 4-0 lead.

Gladstone might have done even more damage in the inning if not for a great play by Crook County catcher Caitlyn Elliott. Immediately following Bennett's home run, Amanda Ward singled up the middle. Ward then attempted to steal second and was gunned down by Elliott.

Neither team scored in the fourth or fifth inning. However, the Gladiators threatened in the fifth. Bennett ripped a double up the middle, then started for third on an overthrow to second base. Crook County first baseman Emma Ackley quickly retrieved the ball and threw Bennett out at third base.

Then came the decisive sixth inning as Gladstone broke the game wide open. With one oLON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Crook County's Justin Brinkley tags Gladstone's Laila Bennett out at third.ut, Kaitlin Coy singled. Sabrina Ward then hit a hard ground ball between second and third. Puckett made a diving stop at short, but then tried to throw Coy out at second from off the ground. Instead she threw the ball over the head of second baseman Kalyn Martinez allowing Ward and Coy to advance to second and third, respectively.

Dessie Alvarado then slapped a ball towards third base. Alvarado was thrown out on the play, but Coy scored. Ackley then tried to throw Ward out at third and the Cowgirls committed another error, as Ward scored.

Maddie Brady then singled to left and scored on a Clinkscales triple.

The Cowgirls tried to rally in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with no outs. However, Pinner was able to pitch her way out of the jam as the Cowgirls were able to score just one run on an Ackley sacrifice fly.

With both pitchers throwing strikes, neither team was able to score in the seventh as the Gladiators went home with the key win.

"We knew this was a big game going in," said Gladstone head coach Emily Smith. "We knew that Crook County can hit the ball really well and defensively were one of the better teams we have played so it was big for us to show up and play our game."

Pinner gave up just four hits in the contest, all singles, and walked just three, while Crook County starting pitcher Brooke Dalton gave up nine hits and walked four, while striking out four.

"We we are going to have to work on hitting outside, inside I guess," Ackley said. "I don't really think it her pitching. I think it was more she was in our heads."

The big difference in the game was that the Cowgirls committed five costly errors, while the Gladiators made just one.

"They were a good team," Crook County head coach Jeremy Puckett said. "They were aggressive, but we made five errors. The good news is we got everyone in and got them an at bat today. There will probably be some changes in the lineup going forward."

With the win the Gladiators improved to 7-0 in Tri-Valley Conference play and 11-5 overall, while the Cowgirls fell to 4-1 in conference and 10-5 overall.

The two teams square off again on Monday at Gladstone with a 4:30 p.m. start time.

"I think there is always room for improvement and we know that Monday playing crook county again is going to be a tough game," Smith said. "They are going to come back fighting, so we have got to be prepared for that. I'm just proud of the team and I feel like everybody contributed to that win."

Puckett agreed that Monday will be a big game.

"I think the pitcher pitched a good game, but I don't think they've seen the best cowgirl offense yet," he said. "It makes it big, we need to go over to their place and do the same thing to them that they did to us today."

"It makes me want to win Monday's game even more," added Ackley.

Gladstone 112 103 0 - 8 9 1 Crook County 000 001 0 - 1 4

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