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Glads fall short despite 15 strikeouts

Gladstone drops a 2-1 heartbreaker to Baker

Ouch!

Gladstone High School's softball team dropped a heartbreaker to Baker in a May 23 Class 4A first-round state playoff game with the Bulldogs, giving up two unearned runs in a 2-1 loss.

The loss was especially painful because Gladstone sophomore Nena Dudley pitched a gem, striking out 15 batters, while walking two and allowing just four hits.

Led by Dudley (2-for-4) and Erica Ward (2-for-4), the Gladiators out-hit the Bulldogs 8-4. And the Gladiators only struck out once. But they committed two errors, and both proved costly.

Baker scored one run in the third on a walk, a passed ball, a wild pitch, and a ball that deflected off the glove of a Gladstone infielder.

The Bulldogs brought the winning run around in the sixth. Two singles and a groundout put runners on second and third with one down. A Gladstone infielder then overthrew catcher Ashlee Muller on an attempted squeeze play, and Baker's Abi Smith skipped home for the game-winner.

Gladstone scored its only run in the bottom of the fourth. Ward singled and Maria Campos reached as a hit batsman. The base runners advanced on Molly Webster's groundout. Meghan Winkle's single to left brought Ward around. But the Gladiators attempted to score pinch runner Kayla Cavitt on Winkle's base hit, and Cavitt was thrown out at the plate, retiring the side.

'Our pitching combo of Nena Dudley and Megan Kirchem did a fantastic job this season,' said Gladstone coach Bruce Mortier. 'But we've struggled a touch on defense all season, and it cost us tonight.'

The Gladiators finished with an overall record of 17-10, after gong 12-3 and tying Madras for first place in the Tri-Valley Conference. Baker improved to 18-7 with the playoff win. Gladstone and Baker were ranked eighth and ninth in the state respectively entering last week's game.

Mortier is optimistic about next season.

'We only lose three seniors,' he said. 'We'll be better next year.'

Gladstone's starting lineup for the Baker game included: seniors Campos (first base), Ashley Martin (third base) and Amanda Curtis (centerfield); junior Muller (catcher); sophomores Winkle (second base), Kirchem (shortstop), Ward (left field) and Dudley (pitcher); and freshmen Molly Webster (right field) and Andra Breshears (designated player).

Sophomores Ashley Hale and Cavitt and freshman Tianna Smith served as pinch runners or courtesy runners in last week's playoff game.