by: Vern Uyetake, 
Natalie Rose hurls a pitch during Lakeridge’s 1-0 victory over West Linn last Friday.

Early in the season the Lakeridge softball team is still looking for some consistency. The team is sitting at 2-3 in league and in fifth place but has shown flashes of playoff potential.

Case in point: Last Friday against West Linn.

While the Lions were, at best, considered to be a darkhorse playoff candidate heading into the season, they have deceptively solid pitching and a balanced line-up with speed and power.

Natalie Rose didn't have much trouble with either of those types of players. The Lakeridge pitcher only gave up three hits, all singles, and struck out six batters en route to a shut-out and a 1-0 victory.

'Any time you beat West Linn it's a good thing because they're very well coached,' Lakeridge coach Gene Chamberlain said.

Rose was also backed by some stellar defense along the way.

One of West Linn's best scoring chances of the afternoon came in the top of the first inning when leadoff batter Taylor Brooke reached on an error and then proceeded to steal second and third base.

But Rose got out of the jam unscathed. The Lakeridge batters didn't have trouble putting the ball in play on Friday as the line-up only struck out once. However, West Linn's defense was equally impressive and the Lions' pitcher Carly Dolder was accurate and prevented the Pacers from hitting the ball hard for much of the afternoon.

'I think the weather might be affecting us a little bit. It takes us awhile to get going when it's cold and rainy,' Chamberlain said.

Lakeridge's only run came in the bottom of the second inning. Taylor Ramsey led off with a double and Alex Pyle pinch ran for her. She advanced to third base on a groundout and then, with two outs, Melanie Walsworth came through with an RBI single.

West Linn threatened to score in the top of the fourth when a bunt single and a hit batsman put runners on first and second with one out. But Rose buckled down and retired the next two batters.

'Natalie wasn't throwing as hard as she has been but she was really accurate,' Chamberlain said.

In the bottom of the fourth, Rose led off and was robbed by a fantastic diving catch in right field which likely cost the Pacers at least one run as Zoe Teton and Chelsea Canlas had back-to-back singles later in the inning.

Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Hanna Steger reached on an error and moved to third base with two outs.

Alex Scott came to the plate and belted a ball to deep right field but the ball was caught just a few feet in front of the fence.

Rose only allowed one base runner in the final three innings of play. That came with two outs in the seventh when the Lions' came up with an infield single. Rose struck out the next batter to seal the win.

Lakeridge looked to put together a winning streak on Monday against Oregon City but the bats didn't show up. The Pioneers scored with some clutch hitting and walked away with a 6-1 victory.

Mackenzie Griffin was 4-for-4 in the game but Lakeridge struggled to get runners across the plate.

'One day we're up and the next day we're down but I think we're going to start to put it together,' Chamberlain said.