Despite a strong seventh inning, Molalla softball drops first meeting with Corbett

Molalla came up with triple doubles in the seventh inning to put Corbett on the ropes last week, but the Indians were unable to land the knockout blow in a 4-3 home loss.

Corbett took a comfortable 4-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, but Molalla would make the traveling fans squirm before this one was finished. Rookie pinch-hitter Jackie Parker started it off with a lead-off single, followed by Emily Gates with a double that came down in the right-field gap between Corbett's Abigail Fritz and Daphne Scott.

"It was a bad situation from the beginning with the ball going to the fence and a runner on," Fritz said. "Daphne and I looked at each other and had about point-one seconds to decide who was going for it."

DAVID BALL - Molalla fell to 3-11 overall after a late rally against league foe Corbett was unable to put the team in the lead. Corbett defeated Molalla 3-4 on Wednesday, April 25.

In the end, Fritz scooped the ball out of the grass, leaned far back and launched a rocket shot toward home plate. The ball took one hop before reaching catcher Lindsey Flegel, who allowed the motion of the ball to swing her glove back, tagging the lead runner on the shoulder as she started her slide home.

"I just cocked my arm and threw it," Fritz said. "It's the hardest I've ever thrown a ball — my arm is still numb."

The big play protected Corbett's three-run lead, but Molalla wasn't ready to wave the white flag.

Maykaylah Kluken hit a shot that bounced into the left-field fence, and Analiz Wickham followed with a drive into the right-field gap — the Indians' third consecutive double — to trim the lead to a single run.

"They called time to try to break up our momentum, but I used that break to focus on hitting whatever came to me," Wickham said. "It's our tradition to start slow, but this is the closest we've come to making it all the way back — it was exciting."

Lexie Calkins hit a low line-drive to first base that Corbett's Faith McQueen was able to snag for the second out, but Molalla advanced the tying run to third base. Tyler Maricich was next up and drilled a deep drive to left field. But Corbett's Riley Mandzij was in position for the clutch catch to end the game.

"It's my first year in the outfield, so I was nervous," Mandzij said. "I just kept my eye on the ball and focused really hard."

The win boosts Corbett to 4-5 in the Tri-Valley Conference — one game behind Madras in the chase for the league's final play-in qualifier spot. The loss left Molalla at 1-5 in league ahead of winless Estacada for fifth place.

Corbett got on the scoreboard first when Flegel distracted the defense with a steal of second base, opening the door for teammate Molly Stratton to sprint home. The Indians avoided any further damage when Katelyn Streett caught a pair of fly balls in right field, and Wickham struck out the last batter.

Molalla answered in the bottom of the inning when Kluken drew a two-out walk and found her way home on an RBI-double by Wickham.

The Cardinals regained the lead on an RBI-double by Flegel in the fifth inning. Molalla kept it close when catcher Gates threw out Flegel trying to stretch her hit into a triple. Moments later, Gates tracked down a tall pop-up in front of the plate for the third out.

Corbett extended to a 4-1 lead in the sixth after seeing McQueen, Scott and Serena Stencil connect for consecutive singles to lead off the inning.

Molalla picked up two quick outs that nearly erased the threat.

Next up was pinch-hitter Sydney Smith, who whipped the first pitch she saw foul past the Molalla dugout. Several pitches later, she sent a two-run single the other way to right field to provide what proved to be the winning margin.

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