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The Pios' win secures second place in the Three Rivers League; LO eyes playoffs, too.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Oregon City sophomore Chloe Grimmer (center) and freshman Elise Bean converge on the ball during their team's 12-5 win over Lake Oswego at Lake Oswego Junior High on Tuesday, May 17.The Oregon City softball team believes it's ready.

The Pioneers — who beat Lake Oswego 12-5 on Tuesday, May 17, at Lake Oswego Junior High —have won four of their final five games, risen to No. 3 in the OSAA power rankings and are poised to make some noise in the upcoming Class 6A state playoffs.

"This game was a big game for everybody," said Oregon City junior Allyson Nordling, who went 4 for 4 at the plate with one RBI and three runs scored, and also picked up the save. "We've all been in a little bit of a hitting slump and I think this game really helped a lot of people get out of it and I think everyone overall contributed really well and this was a good game to get our confidence back up going into playoffs."

"The key (for the playoffs) is to have fun and lots of energy," said freshman catcher Chloe Stromme, who went 3 for 4 at the plate and knocked in one run.

With the win, the Pioneers finished second in the Three Rivers League at 8-4 and improved to 18-7 overall. The first round of the state playoffs is set for May 23. No. 21 Lake Oswego, meanwhile, lost for the ninth straight time and fell to 2-10 in TRL play and 11-16 overall.

While the Lakers have been down the past three weeks, they believe they have the ability to compete in the postseason.

"We have some good chemistry in the dugout and we're trying to approach these games like 'It's okay if they get some runs on the board. It's fine,'" said junior pitcher Paris Richards, who recently returned from injury and went 2 for 4 at the plate and allowed five earned runs (on 17 hits and one walk with no strikeouts) in seven innings. "We've just got to wake up the bats a little earlier. We'll definitely bring it for playoffs."

"I think we just got over a really big bump, so just to come out and play two of the top teams and to get our pitcher back is a big transition," said junior third baseman Riley O'Mara, who went 3 for 4 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored. "But I think we're going into the playoffs with a better setup than we had the last two weeks — I'm excited to see if we can actually put our full team out there."

After a scoreless first inning, the Pioneers took control by scoring three times in the top of the second inning and three more times in the top of the third to lead 6-0. In the second, Nordling tripled and scored on sophomore Lily Riley's bloop single over third base, sophomore Ally Pagel singled home another run and freshman Ellie Joseph added another RBI on a groundout.

In the third inning, Stromme singled to center, took third on Nordling's double and scored on senior Preslie Ritz's hit to right field. Riley added a sacrifice fly and Pagel doubled home another run to make it 6-0.

The Lakers, after stranding three runners in their first two at-bats, got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when O'Mara and Richards hit back-to-back singles and O'Mara scored when OC made an error on junior Ava Brenden's grounder.

The two teams then scored four runs each in the fourth to make it 10-5, with the Pioneers' at-bat highlighted by sophomore Chloe Grimmer's two-run single to center, while LO saw O'Mara drive in two runs on a bloop single to right field.

The Pioneers added single runs in the fifth and sixth frames, with Nordling getting an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fifth and sophomore Taylor Alexander following suit with a sacrifice fly in the sixth to push their lead to 12-5.

Nordling, on in relief of Joseph for the final three innings, held the Lakers scoreless despite three walks, two hit batters and two hits.

"I think confidence is going to be a big thing and knowing everyone's abilities to succeed and that we can all do it and that we're a great team," Nordling said. "We're here for a reason and … we're going to kick butt this year."

"There's definitely some good teams in our conference," Richards said, referencing her team's loss to top-ranked Tigard a day earlier. "We've just got to be strong mentally and physically and we've just got to bring it."

Senior Phoebe Borkus, Ritz and Riley added two hits each for Oregon City, with Riley driving in two and scoring three times. For Lake Oswego, sophomore Camille Francis went 2 for 3 at the plate and scored once.

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