Softball: Gladstone overwhelms Corbett in Tri-Valley opener, 11-1
Gladstone's Dessie Alvarado had a day at the plate Friday.
The sophomore right fielder went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and three runs scored, highlighting a 10-hit attack that helped carry the Gladiators to an 11-1 home win over the Corbett Cardinals in the Tri-Valley Conference softball opener for both teams.
Laila Bennett, Shaye Pinner, and Sabrina Ward added two hits each for the Gladiators (5-5, 1-0 Tri-Valley), while Pinner also had a strong performance on the mound, holding the Cardinals to four hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
"That was a great start," Gladstone coach Emily Smith said. "I just felt like it was a full team effort -- pitching, defense, and hitting. It shows what we can do as a team when we're all together."
The Gladiators had played short-handed through much of their non-conference schedule with two players missing two weeks while on an East Coast trip, two others missing time while still competing with the dance team, and two others who had a temporary scheduling conflict while taking after-school drivers' education classes.
One constant, though, has been Alvarado, the sophomore outfielder who through the first 10 games is batting .516 (16 for 31) with two doubles and 17 runs scored while hitting either first or second in the lineup.
"Dessie is a force at the plate," Smith said. "She has a great eye, so she really forces pitchers to dial it in. She can bunt, she can power slap, she can drag, and … I mean, she can do it all with the bat and she's an incredible baserunner."
Alvarado's philosophy at the plate is to keep it simple.
"Anything close, I'm going to swing at it," she said. "I've been working really hard to get my slaps down and it's been really good. If I get lucky, it goes into the outfield, maybe."
Against Corbett, Alvarado touched off a two-run first inning when she lined a single to left field, stole second base, went to third on a fielder's choice, and scored the game's first run on Emily Clinkscales' sacrifice bunt.
In the second inning, the Gladiators pushed the lead to 5-0 when Alvarado drove in Amanda Ward and Sabrina Ward with a one-out single to left, and then Alvarado came around to score on Maddie Brady's sacrifice fly to left.
Corbett (1-7, 0-1) got a run back in the fourth on Bella Morales' RBI-single and probably would have scored more if not for Gladstone's Sabrina Ward running down a deep fly ball off the bat Cardinals' clean-up hitter Faith McQueen and snagging it in the tip of her glove a few feet in front of the fence.
Gladstone turned around in the bottom of the fourth and sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring five runs on three hits, two walks, and two Corbett errors. Alvarado again had a hand in the scoring with a bunt single that combined with a Cardinals' throwing error scored Sabrina Ward, who had reached on an error leading off the inning.
Leading 10-1 in the sixth, the mercy rule was invoked when Bennett led off with a double, went to third on a Pinner sacrifice, and scored on Savannah Tunon's game-ending sacrifice fly to center.
"We were a little shaky on defense," Cardinals coach Rick Hanes said. "That's what hurt us. We did get some bats going toward the end there and it would have been nicer to get them going at the front end, but we've got young players out there and it showed in some of the plays we made in the field today."
Despite the final outcome, Hanes said he saw a number of positives, including Morales' RBI-single and the pitching of freshman Emma Dillard, who came on in relief of starter Kara Moritz and retired Gladstone's Nos. 3, 4 and 5 batters in order in the fifth.
"It was good to see that some of the things we've been working in practice have been paying off," he said. "We're just waiting to see if we can put it all together in one game."
Hanes also was impressed with Pinner, the Gladiators' senior right-hander, who retired 10 of the first 11 batters she faced with five strikeouts.
"She was throwing hard, plus she had a change-up that she not only threw out of the zone for swings and misses, but she also was dropping it in the zone and freezing hitters," he said. "That's a tough combination."
Gladstone is scheduled to play Monday at home against Corbett, Wednesday at home against Molalla, and Friday on the road against Molalla.
The Cardinals follow up Monday's return trip to Gladstone with another road game Wednesday against Crook County in Prineville and a home game Friday against Crook County.