Forest Grove's softball team will play North Medford in the quarter-finals
After two decisive victories earlier this week, the Forest Grove Vikings are heading to Medford to play in the 6A softball quarterfinals Friday afternoon.
The Lady Viks, playing at home Wednesday afternoon, jumped to an early lead against Jesuit and senior left-hander Marissa Reichard kept the Crusaders hitless in a 4-0 victory.
Reichard, who gave up three walks, was backed up by a solid defense, including another stellar game behind plate from Karla Broderson, who thew out a Crusader trying to spark a 6th-inning rally with an attempted steal at second base.
The Viks put up a run in the first when Reichard scored on Natalie Sydenstricker's base hit. They scored twice in the third on a single by Jorie Gronseth, double by Sydenstricker and a sacrafice fly by Taylor Schmitt.
"We were really excited about how we started the game against Jesuit. Scoring first always helps our pitching and defense relax and get into a good rhythm," said Vikings coach Trevor Tusow. "We knew they were a really aggressive team at the plate and on the bases, so our goal was to try and limit the number of base runners, especially early.
Forest Grove also was aided by another extra-base hit in the fifth, when Reichard led off with a triple and scored on Gronseth's single.
The long ball was not an option in Forest Grove's first-round matchup Tuesday afternoon, as a heavy head wind caused several delays by toppling over the home-run fence making big hits next to impossible.
Instead, the No. 3 seed Vikings relied on steady defense and a series of clutch hits to pull out the 3-1 win over David Douglas.
A two-out rally in the third inning accounted for all of Forest Grove's scoring, as Schmitt, Allison Thorud and Alexis Richey strung together a series of RBI-singles.
'We got some balls to fall in for us today, and once we put a couple runs up we started to relax,' Tusow said. 'It's always easier to play defense when you have the lead.'
The Vikings had a chance for more when Broderson smacked a line-drive with eyes for left field only to see David Douglas infielder Tess Kuehl reach up quickly and snag it with her glove.
David Douglas put runners on base in each of the last four innings, but base-running mistakes killed any chances for a comeback. The Scots had one player called out for leaving first base early, while three others were caught stealing by Broderson, including an attempt on third base for the game's final out.
'They were being aggressive,' Broderson said. 'I was kind of surprised they went after third though, because that's usually the easiest base to get an out.'
'I thought we had a chance there in the seventh, but we fell asleep on our base running,' Scots coach Staci Heath said.
David Douglas took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when lead-off hitter Paige Martin drew a walk and was put in motion on a bunt by teammate Tiara Langshaw. A Vikings overthrow allowed Martin to come home.
The Vikings will now head south, facing the 26-1 North Medford Black Tornado at 4 p.m. Friday.
"We know they are a great team," said Tusow. "They have won a ton of games in a row and scored a ton of runs. Our game plan is pretty simple, much like it has been all year. We need to stay aggressive on offense and limit their chances on defense.
"They are a very well coached team," Tusow continued. "So we have to make sure we come prepared for a tough game. We are playing at a high level right now, so we aren't going to change much about what we are doing.
Gresham Outlook Sports Editor David Ball contributed to this story.