The Gladiator softball team earns blowouts over Astoria and Class 6A West Linn in its openers

GLADSTONE - Gladstone's girls softball team appears to have picked up where it left off last year.

The Gladiators, who advanced to the Class 4A quarterfinals a year ago, last week launched their 2008 campaign with a bang, defeating Astoria 6-0 on March 11, and bouncing Class 6A West Linn 11-1 on March 12.

The Gladiators out-hit their opponents 17-7 in the two games; Gladstone pitchers Jillian Marl and Brittany Wagner struck out 13 batters between them, and Gladstone defenders played near error-free defense behind them.

'Everyone's playing really well for so early in the season,' said Gladstone coach Bruce Mortier. 'We're hitting the ball, we're playing defense, and between Jillian and Brittany, the pitching is just superb.'

Wagner and Marl teamed up to pitch a two-hitter in the shutout of Astoria, striking out eight and issuing just one walk.

Tamara Feb headed the hitting in the rout of the Fishermen. Feb, who is unable to catch because of a sore shoulder, went two-for-two at the plate as a designated player, pounding out two doubles and driving in two runs.

Feb, Bailie Foxworthy and Corissa Santos headed a 10-hit attack in the six-inning game at West Linn, each of them with a pair of hits. Santos led the charge, with a bases clearing double in a six-run sixth inning and a total of five RBI.

Robin Greer reached the Lions for a double.

Marl pitched the first four frames, striking out five, while allowing no runs and three scattered hits.

Weather permitting, the Gladiators were to begin conference play with three Capital Conference games this week. They were scheduled to meet North Marion on Monday; they play at Estacada today, and they entertain Stayton on Friday.

'North Marion beat us in two out of three games last year and they've got their pitcher back,' said Mortier. 'Estacada is improved. They played us close in a couple of games last year; Stayton has a new coaching staff, but they hit the crude out of the ball [last year].'

The Gladiators will be without four varsity players - Feb, Santos, Greer and Amanda Schumaker - who are on an educational trip to the East Coast.

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