Barlow softball clinches league championship
Monday, May 6
Barlow's softball team came through in crunch time yet again, this time toppling Clackamas 9-8 to secure the Mount Hood Conference title on Monday night.
"They are uber competitive, and they refuse to lose," Barlow coach Rob Gehrke said.
All tied up heading into their final at-bats, the Bruins pushed across the winning run without registering an out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Emily Virell smacked a lead-off double to left field and was replaced at second base by pinch-runner Chloe Hilsenteger.
She wouldn't stay there long.
Natalie Faulkner was next up with the plan to bunt Hilsenteger over to third base. A pair of attempts went foul, leaving her to swing away with a rope to right field that brought Hilsenteger home with the winning run.
"Chloe gets a good read on plays and doesn't make mistakes," Gehrke said. "She got a great jump, and there was no way they were throwing her out."
The Bruins (18-6) clinched the Mount Hood Conference title with the win.
"The girls want to win league every year," Gehrke said. "It's a really young team, we start a lot of sophomores, but we've seen incredible growth over the second half of the season. They are realizing what it takes to play 6A varsity softball."
Barlow's perfect league run appeared to be in trouble when Maddy Stateler banged a two-run homer to put the Cavaliers up 7-4 midway through the game.
The Bruins climbed out of the hole in its next at-bats when Bergen Grant hit a lead-off single to right field, Alexa Bailey singled to left and Olivia Brown dropped a first-pitch bunt into the dirt and reached without a throw to load the bases.
Two batters later, Sammie Pemberton smashed a double to the left-field gap to clear the bases. A throw home took Clackamas catcher Kylie Hegar a step toward the Barlow dugout, clearing just enough space for Brown to sneak by standing up to tie the game.
Barlow's starting pitcher Lexi Geary aggravated a back injury trying to beat out a single, forcing the Bruins to go to their bench to deny Clackamas down the stretch.
First to the pitching circle was Sydney Loeb, who gave up only a two-out single during her two innings.
Geary was inserted back into the lineup in the sixth and drew a four-pitch walk before being relieved by a pinch runner. The Bruins would take an 8-7 lead as part of that rally when Pemberton poked a hit into right field that allowed Brown to race home.
Gehrke called out a third pitcher, Natalie Harrop to close out the game.
Clackamas tied the score on a Shaylee Monise single to left field, but Harrop induced an infield pop-up and a ground ball to prevent the Cavaliers from moving in front.
"They've thrown a few innings this season and done a great job every time I've put them in," Gehrke said.
Pemberton led the Bruins' bats by going 3-for-4 with a double and four RBIs.
Barlow scored an 11-0 mercy-rule win at David Douglas on Tuesday with Harrop throwing all five innings and striking out seven.
The Bruins are in position to finish with a perfect league record heading into Thursday's early 3:45 p.m. game against Central Catholic at Delta Park.
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This story is slated for our Friday, May 10, print edition.