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Starting off strong

Softball: Tigard scores a 2-0 victory at Centennial to stay unbeaten on the early season
by: DAN BROOD, GOOD CONTACT — Tigard sophomore Katie Aden gets her bat on the ball in Friday’s game.

GRESHAM - They're young.

They're inexperienced.

And they were competing without the services of their best player.

But, with their win at Centennial on Friday, the Tigers remained unbeaten.

The youthful Tigard High School softball team kept its unbeaten early-season record intact by scoring a 2-0 win over the Eagles in a non-league game played at Centennial High School.

'We lost six seniors from last year and we're really, really young,' said Tigard junior Ashley Suter, who pitched the Tigers to the shutout victory. 'But we've started fresh and things keep looking up. We're all working hard together. It's awesome.'

With the win at Centennial, Tigard improved its record to 4-0-1 on the season at that point.

'We're real young,' first-year Tigard coach Gary Edwards said. 'But they're all hustling and doing everything we ask. We'll be OK.'

'Getting these wins are real important to us,' Suter said. 'It shows us what we can do.'

Tigard played at Centennial on Friday without standout senior shortstop Heidi Pizer. That left the Tigers with a pair of freshmen, Erin Nyberg and Maddie Miller, playing at shortstop and second base. Yet Tigard, which also had freshman Kelsey Kaelin starting at catcher, not to mention a pair of sophomores in the starting line-up, played an errorless game on defense.

'I have total confidence in our defense,' Suter said. 'We all work together.'

Suter, who is in her first year as Tigard's No. 1 pitcher, looked to be in total control throughout the contest. The hard-throwing right-hander gave up just four hits while striking out 12 and walking two in getting the shutout.

'It's never been just me before,' said Suter, who shared pitching duties with since-graduated Katie Alexander last year. 'But I'm pretty confident. I like the feeling.'

In Friday's game, Tigard threatened in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore Chelsea Biglow hit a two-out single to center field and Suter reached on a Centennial error, but they were both left stranded.

In the second inning, Nyberg laced a one-out single to center, but she also was left on base.

However, Tigard wouldn't be denied in the third inning. Junior Krista McCord was hit by a pitch with one out in the inning to get things started. Biglow and Suter both followed with walks to load the bases.

Then, after a strikeout, Kaelin walked on a 3-2 pitch to force in McCord for the first run of the game. Nyberg then reached base on a Centennial error on a pop-up, with Biglow scoring on the play to up the margin to 2-0.

That would be more than enough for the Tigers.

Centennial, which fell to 1-4 on the season, threatened in the bottom of the fourth inning when Krista Arnold hit a one-out single to right and Allison Batie followed with a bunt single. But Suter got a strikeout and a groundout to get out of the jam.

Tigard threatened to add onto its lead in the top of the seventh as Biglow walked to lead off the frame and Suter followed with a single to center, but the Tigers couldn't capitalize.

But that didn't matter as Suter and the Tigers put down Centennial in order in the bottom of the frame to wrap up the 2-0 victory.

'It was a nice win,' Edwards said. 'The kids got to play in some spots they don't usually play in, and they did a good job.'

Tigard had four hits in the contest, one each by Biglow, Nyberg, senior Lyndsey Bidwell and Suter.

The Tigers, who stranded 11 runners on base in the contest, also had a number of hard-hit outs, including a pair of line-drive shots deep to the outfield off the bat of sophomore Katie Aden.

Tigard, on Monday and Tuesday, played in a spring break tournament in Medford.

On Monday, the Tigers blasted South Medford 12-0 to move to 5-0-1 on the season. Pizer tripled and hit her third home run of the season. Biglow also hit a home run and drove in four.

Suter picked up the pitching win, striking out nine.

The Tigers will be back in action this Tuesday when they play at Sunset in a non-league contest.