McMinnville hits and pitches its way past Forest Grove 12-0 in five innings at FGHS.

STAFF PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove's Carmen Sahlfeld hurls a pitch in relief during the Vikings' game against McMinnville April 6 at Forest Grove High.In sports, seasons in general tend to ebb and flow. Unfortunately for the Forest Grove Vikings softball team — it ain't flowing right now.

The Vikings, after a 3-1 start to the year, dropped their fourth straight contest Friday, April 6 and their fifth in their last six games. No. 17-ranked McMinnville scored six in the second inning and six more in the fifth, and standout Grizzly pitcher Patyon Hudson stymied Forest Grove hitters to finish the Vikings 12-0 in five innings at Forest Grove High.

Hudson, a First Team All-Greater Valley Conference pitcher last year for the Grizz, allowed just two hits to the Vikings and didn't allow a baserunner after the first inning. At the plate, Mac tallied 15 hits off of Forest Grove pitching and boasted five hitters with multiple hits, including junior Lexi McKinley who finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

Forest Grove head coach Katy Carrillo spoke to her team's morale being a bit low after the game, and tried to explain the dip in production both in the field and the plate over their recent stretch of defeats.

"I think that since the tournament (The Milwaukie High School Spring Break Tournament) we've lost a lot of confidence," said Carrillo. "We didn't have a great tournament, and I'm not sure what caused it, but we're making a lot of errors in the field and it's cost us defensive confidence."

While not a tremendous amount of egregious errors, there was noticeable hesitation at times which led to long innings and on a couple occasions directly to runs.

"Our pitchers have been battling, but our defense has let them down," said the coach. "So it's been hard on all of our pitchers morale to keep working. But you can't give up on it, so you have to convince our pitchers not to give up on it because it's worth the fight."

STAFF PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove's Vanessa Gonzalez lays down a bunt during the Vikings' game against McMinnville April 6 at Forest Grove High.After putting the Grizzlies down in the first inning, the Vikings put runners on second and third before a two-out ground ball ended the Forest Grove threat. Then McMinnville used a series of hits and well executed bunts to score two runs before a controversial call at second base significantly altered the game.

With runners on first and third with two outs, McMinnville's Cheyenne Schreiner attempted to steal second. On the throw to second the Grizzlies' Lexi McKinley ran home, but Schreiner was called out at second, nullifying McKinley's run and presumably ending the inning. But after both team's had left the field and at the urge of a defiant McMinnville head coach Larry Nichols, the umpire's huddled and the home official overturned the call by the field ump, counting the run and keeping the visiting Grizzlies inning alive — and they made the most of it.

Mac scored three more runs on a series of hits from there, turning a 2-0 Viking deficit into a 6-0 hole, from which Forest Grove would never recover.

"From my view she wasn't at the base, but the ump at second didn't see it and the home plate umpire said she beat her to the bag," said Carrillo. "It ended up costing us a lot of runs."

Forest Grove would allow six more McMinnville runs in the top half of the fifth and the game would end in the bottom of the inning following a Viking three-and-out. The loss came on the heels of the Viks' 7-5 loss to McNary and their April 5 loss at West Albany, in which they lost shortstop Kinsey Barnett to injury. While certainly not the difference in this game, Carrillo noted it was another in a string of setbacks currently plaguing her squad.

"Against West Albany we came out strong offensively and had a great approach at the plate against a very good pitcher, and I was excited," Carrillo said. "We scored two early runs, then lost our shortstop to injury, and for whatever reason just lost it defensively. We've lost it in the field and also had a poor approach at the plate tonight. Were really up and down right now, we need that confidence so we can have some consistency going forward."

With the loss the Vikings fell to 0-3 in Greater Valley Conference play and 4-7 overall. Their next scheduled to host Sprague Tuesday, April 10 before traveling to West Salem for a game against the Titans April 11.

McMinnville improved to 2-1 in conference and 8-3 overall.

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