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The Wildcats break a 3-3 tie when Taylor Hadden homers in the bottom of the sixth.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Wilsonville junior Taylor Hadden high-fives coach Steve Harms after hitting a two-run home to beat Oregon City 5-3 at Wilsonville High School on Wednesday, March 30.The Wilsonville softball team wasn't going to let this one go.

The top-ranked Wildcats, hosting unbeaten Oregon City on Wednesday, March 30, saw the Pioneers battle back from behind to tie the contest in the top of the sixth inning.

But Wilsonville didn't flinch.

The Wildcats got a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth from junior left fielder Taylor Hadden and used that bomb to beat Oregon City 5-3 at Wilsonville High School.

"I think we did really great today. We battled back every single time," said Hadden, who went 2 for 4 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBIs. "Every time they scored a run, we came back and scored more."

In addition to the Cats' heroics with the bat, senior pitcher Maddie Erickson was on form, too, holding the Pioneers to two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out 14.

"My pitching coach helped me develop another pitch to hide my off-speed pitch, and I think that was really working," said Erickson, who also went 1 for 3 at the plate with a double. "It was that and just the connection I have with my catcher (sophomore Madeline Holly); that really helps."

With the win, Wilsonville's second straight, the No. 1 Wildcats improved to 6-1 overall with just two non-league games remaining before the start of Northwest Oregon Conference play. No. 5 Oregon City, meanwhile, lost for the first time, saw its five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 5-1 overall.

"I think our energy could have been better," said Oregon City junior second baseman Allyson Nordling, who went 1 for 3 at the plate with a home run, one RBI and one run scored. "We need to keep the energy up the whole game. … Everyone's a part of this team and we all need to keep the energy up and stay positive because we had a good chance of winning that game."

"It was a good game, but I think that we have a couple minor tweaks we need to make because we haven't been playing top competition like we should be," said junior shortstop Gina Allen, who went 2 for 3 at the plate with a triple, a double, one RBI and one run scored. "This game was kind of an eye-opener facing (Erickson)."

After a scoreless first inning, both teams went to the long ball in the second, with Nordling leading off the top of the inning with a solo home run that gave her team a 1-0 lead.

But that edge didn't last long. After Erickson struck out the side to end the Pioneers' second at-bat, the Wildcats' leadoff hitter in their half of the inning — senior utility player Neina-Leilani Santer — hammered a pitch from OC sophomore Lily Riley over the center field fence to tie the contest at 1-1.

The Pioneers pushed ahead 2-1 in the third when sophomore Ally Pagel walked with one out, took second on a wild pitch and scored when Allen doubled to center.

Again, however, the Wildcats answered quickly, scoring twice in the bottom of the frame and taking a 3-2 lead. Senior Natalie Adams and Hadden got things started with back-to-back singles, Holly tied the game with a one-out double to center and Santer gave her team the lead when she followed with a single to left.

Both pitchers put up zeroes over the next two innings, with Erickson setting down six straight batters in the fourth and fifth, while Riley stranded two baserunners each in those frames to keep the score at 3-2.

But Oregon City tied the game 3-3 in the top of the sixth when Allen tripled down the right field line, then scored on a Wilsonville throwing error on the play.

The Wildcats responded immediately again, however, and this time, their answer won the game.

In the bottom of the sixth, Adams led off with a walk and Hadden stepped up to hammer a Riley pitch over the right-center field fence for the final 5-3 margin.

"It was really nice," Hadden said of her second home run of the year. "I was very happy to help the team and just contribute to getting us ahead. I was yelling 'Get out.'"

For their part, the Pioneers believe there are good things ahead in the upcoming Three Rivers League season.

"We have a good chance of being tops at state this year," Nordling said. "This is one of the best Oregon City teams we've had in multiple years, especially (after) COVID. We've come back with such a strong group of young women, lots of underclassmen really. We are going to be really good this year and next year."

For the game, Adams went 3 for 3 with two runs scored, while Santer was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and one run scored. Riley pitched her team into the sixth inning, allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out seven.

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