Freshman Alise Gump pitches the win and also hits two home runs to beat the Mustangs

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - St. Helens' Brooklynn Mercier follows through after getting a hit during her team's 18-4 win over Milwaukie at Hood View Park on Tuesday.St. Helens' Alise Gump did her share of heavy lifting for the Lions softball team in Tuesday's Northwest Oregon Conference road game against Milwaukie.

At the plate, Gump went 3 for 4 with two home runs and five RBIs.

In the circle, the freshman right-hander tossed a three-hitter with four walks and four strikeouts, pacing the Lions to an 18-4 blowout win over the Mustangs at Hood View Park in Happy Valley.

Brynn Austin, Taylor Dow, Madi Flores, Brooklynn Mercier, Ciara Santangelo and Hallie Schwirse also had multi-hit games for St. Helens, but Gump owned the spotlight as the Lions (2-1 in NWOC play, 3-6 overall) won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

"It turned out to be a beautiful day," Lions coach Miranda Little said. "The girls played amazing defense, our bats came alive, everyone in the lineup got hits and it was a good day for some St. Helens softball."

And how about the game Gump had?

"As a freshman in this league, sometimes it can be a little intimidating to pitch against players who in some cases have played varsity for four seasons," Little said. "Alise holds her composure really well … and she's not afraid to throw pitches that she's not exactly comfortable with, which helps keep the batters off balance.

"And her bat … she's always had a strong bat, but it really came alive tonight."SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - St. Helens' pitcher Alise Gump delivers during her team's 18-4 win over Milwaukie at Hood View Park on Tuesday.

Gump had an RBI single in the second inning that gave St. Helens a 6-0 lead, a two-run homer to left in the fourth that made it 8-2 and another two-run homer to straightaway center in the sixth that made it 10-4.

"I've never hit two home runs in a game," said Gump, who has been playing competitive softball since the fifth grade. "And being a freshman, it's crazy. It just happened. You never expect something like that. You just go up there, hope for the best and swing the bat.

"Today's game was great. We're starting to come together as a team. We're hitting good and I'm pitching OK."

Just "OK?"

"Yeah, well ... OK, it was pretty good," she said.

Trailing 6-0, Milwaukie got on the scoreboard in the third inning without the benefit of a base hit, turning two St. Helens errors, a passed ball and a wild pitch into a pair of unearned runs.

In the fifth, the Mustangs picked up two more runs when Stevie Schlitz got hit by a pitch, Justine Brown followed with an RBI double to left and Emily Smith added a run-scoring single, cutting St. Helens' lead to 8-4.

Milwaukie had chances to pull closer but stranded two runners in scoring position in the fifth, another in the sixth and two more in the seventh when Gump retired Alexis Danielly on a game-ending line drive to Austin at first base.

"We're working on it," Mustangs coach Danielle Basile said. "We graduated eight seniors, including our pitcher and catcher, so it's a rebuilding year. We just need to build our confidence a little bit more (but) … they're figuring it out. We'll get there."

Smith, Milwaukie's freshman left fielder, had the best day at the plate for the Mustangs, going 2 for 2 with two singles and two walks, yet got stranded at third all four times she reached base.

Milwaukie's Sandra Hinojosa and Danielly took turns pitching and playing third base. Hinojosa started in the circle, she and Danielly switched midway through the second inning, switched again midway through fourth, again in the sixth and one last time in the seventh as the Mustangs (0-3 in NWOC play, 2-9 overall) lost their fourth game in a row.

"Like I said, we're a young team," Basile said. "It's a new group of girls, so we have a lot of girls who haven't played together before. My captains — Angel Browning, Justine Brown and Stevie Scholoth — are doing a great job of rallying the players together and teaching them how things work. I think we'll get there. It's just going to take a little bit of time."

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