Small mistakes prove costly in a tight 2-1 game; St. Helens bounces back with win over Wilsonville

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - St. Helens' Ashley Giesbers is safe at home for the Lady Lions only run against Sandy in a 2-1 loss on Tuesday. The win gave Sandy an insurmountable lead for the NWOC title. Sandy's catcher is Rachel Rutledge.Only a couple plays made the difference in a classic softball game between St. Helens and Sandy on Tuesday night in St. Helens.

Two good teams battled right to the very end. Sandy emerged with a hard-fought 2-1 win that just as easily could have been a 1-0 St. Helens victory.

The game saw close play after close play and the contest could have turned either way.

“We made some little mistakes—some running mistakes and were out of position a couple of times,” St. Helens coach Jeff Edwards said.

It was a bit of a pitcher’s duel. Sandy junior Sammie Byron struck out just four batters, but only gave up one hit, a bunt single by Sue Sass. The ball hit Sass at first base, so there was a question about it being an error.

“We put the ball in play, but didn’t have a lot of gas on the ball. Sandy is solid and they knew it was the biggest game of the season for them.”

St. Helens Mariah Mulcahy gave up five hits, but also struck out 11 batters and had just two walks.

“Sandy will win the league,” Edwards said. “They won’t lose three of their next four. We have to win at Wilsonville to have a chance to finish second.”

The Lady Lions would bounce back from the loss the next night to down Wilsonville, 4-0, and forge a tie for second place in the Northwest Oregon Conference.

Sandy threatened in the first inning but Mulcahy ended the threat with a strike-out. It was the same thing in the top of the fourth.

In the bottom of the fourth, Ashley Giesbers had a good at bat and then was hit in the shoulder with a pitch. Sass then bunted and was hit by the throw, the ball got away and Giesbers moved to third. Sass stole second unchallenged. Mulcahy came up and banged the ball to left field, allowing Giesbers to go home in a close play. She skirted the catcher and the ball got loose. Sass had moved to third, but St. Helens couldn’t send her home.

Sandy’s big inning came in the sixth. A bunt put Molly Nutt on first in a very tight play. The call could have gone either way. Then Chelsea Spanier hit the ball right back towards Mulcahy, it tipped off her glove and that threw Sass out of position. Nutt got caught in a rundown and should have been out, but the ball got loose and she ended up at third. A single by Byron scored her, and a sac fly from Cheyenne Baker sent in the winning run.

Stevie Strawn would walk in the bottom of the inning, but got thrown out going to second. In the seventh, Mulcahy punched the ball to right, but was thrown out at first.

The game with Sandy was the biggest of the league schedule. Wilsonville had taken sole possession of second place with a win over Parkrose and Liberty beat Sherwood.

The loss made the Lady Lions game with Wilsonville on Wednesday even more crucial. The St. Helens win moved the team back into a tie with Wilsonville for second and the Wildcats still have to play Sandy one more time (May 10).

St. Helens moved up in the all-important Oregon School Association rankings on Thursday as well, from ninth to seventh. The top eight teams get a bye to the 5A state playoffs and a home game. The fly in the ointment for the Lady Lions is that they play much lower ranked teams in league. However, they do have a non-league game scheduled with Hood River Valley before the playoffs and that could keep them higher.

St. Helens 4, Wilsonville 0

The Lady Lions did just about everything right, St. Helens coach Jeff Edwards said of the critical win at Wilsonville.

Pitcher Mariah Mulcahy struck out 13 Wildcat batters, walked none, and scattered four hits in the shut-out.

The Lady Lions pounded out 11 hits and didn’t make an error.

St. Helens took charge of the game at the outset. Lead off batter Michelle Sass singled and was bunted to second by Ashley Giesbers. Sue Sass singled to move her to third and Mulcahy singled to score her. The bases were loaded when the last out was made.

St Helens upped the ante with another run in the fourth inning. Kali Moore singled, moved to second on a bunt, and Ashley Giesbers singled to score her.

The Lady Lions put the game away in the fith inning. Sue Sass and Mulcahy walked. Alyssa Giesbers singled to score one, and Taylor Leal followed with a single to score another.

St. Helens 4, Liberty 0

The Lady Lions stayed in the thick of the NWOC race last Friday with a 4-0 win at Liberty.

It wasn’t an overwhelming victory, but a solid one for the team. They scored a lone run in the fifth and three in the sixth to seal the victory.

Pitcher Mariah Mulcahy allowed just four hits, walked three, and struck out six.

In the fifth inning, Courtney Anderson led off with a double and Alyssa Giesbers went in to run for her. Stevie Straw followed with a single to score her. The Lady Lions would load the bases as Michelle Sass posted a single, and Ashley Giesbers was safe on a bunt.

In the sixth, Mulcahy led off with a walk with two outs. She advanced on a passed ball and Karli Edwards moved her to third with a hit. A hit by Anderson sent Mulcahy home and Strawn singled to score the other two runs.

The Lady Lions had eight hits in the contest and made just one error. Karli Edwards was two for three and scored once. Anderson was three for three with two singles, an RBI and scored twice (one a pinch runner). Strawn was two for three.

“It was a little strange,” coach Edwards said. “The bottom half of our line-up had seven of our eight hits. I’m not complaining, though.”

St. Helens remaining schedule:

May 3 at Milwaukie

May 7 Rex Putnam

May 10 at Parkrose

May 14 at Hood River Valley*

*non-leagueby: JOHN BREWINGTON - Sandy's Hailey Valitskie tags out St. Helens' Steven Strawn in the late innings of Tuesday's game in St. Helens.

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