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Pacer softball gains momentum

by: submitted photo, 
The Lakeridge softball team had a solid tournament over spring break, going 3-1.

The Lakeridge softball team that coach Gene Chamberlain thought he had showed up for the Delta Park Tournament last week.

Shaking off an 0-3 start to their season, the Pacers proceeded to go 3-1 in the tournament, with their only defeat being a one-run 1-0 loss to tourney champion David Douglas.

Lakeridge bats came alive, a freshman pitcher showed promise, and Natalie Rose played like Natalie Rose.

'We had some jitters and made some mistakes, but then we came around,' Chamberlain said. 'It was a fun tournament for us.'

It was definitely a fun tournament for Rose. An All-Three Rivers League first team selection last year, the junior pitcher mowed down the opposition at Delta Park, striking out 44 batters in 24 innings. Rose won two games, saved another, and was brilliant in her lone loss, striking out 12 in the 1-0 pitching duel against David Douglas.

While Rose is a known commodity, Chamberlain was happy to see a young arm come along. Freshman Claire McKinney got the starting pitching nod against Aloha in the 6-3 Lakeridge victory.

But the thing making Chamberlain happiest was the sound of Pacer bats against Aloha - especially the three ringing doubles by Mackenzie Griffin, Alex Scott and Rose, following by cleanup hitter Taylor Ramsey's single, resulting in three runs.

'Our bats came alive, really alive,' Chamberlain said. 'Our hitting has been a big worry and that helped a bundle.'

Tourney scores and highlights were:

Lakeridge 3, Newberg 0

Rose tossed a three-hit shutout while fanning 13. Zoe Teton hit a solo homerun.

Lakeridge 2, Gresham 1

Rose was again dominant with 12 strikeouts and also drove home Alex Scott with the winning run.

David Douglas 1, Lakeridge 0

Another brilliant performance by Rose, with 12 more KOs, and tremendous defense from centerfielder Alexis Graybeal were not quite enough.

Lakeridge 6, Aloha 3

Chamberlain gave the ball to freshman pitcher Claire McKinney and she responded by hurling four innings and getting the victory. Rose shut down Aloha over the final innings, striking out 7.

Lakeridge continues its busy schedule with games against powerful Westview on Wednesday (April 2) and West Linn on Friday.

'We're starting to put things together,' Chamberlain said.

The team continued its roll against Milwaukie on Monday, winning 10-0 behind the shutout pitching of Rose.

Chamberlain was charitable toward his opponent, saying, 'Milwaukie is having a rough year. They have new coaches. But they came out and battled us.'

But his Pacer girls were simply too tough on this occasion. The lopsided victory evened their season mark at 4-4, and the win built on the momentum from last week's Invitational.

There were lots of highlights. Rose, the junior standout, gave another brilliant mound performance; Ramsey slammed a three-run homer to lead the offense; and there were 'lots of really good singles.'

'We executed really well,' Chamberlain said. 'Everyone did what they were supposed to do. We stole bases, we threw out a runner at second.'

Chamberlain said the rise of Lakeridge softball has been largely due to a lot of hard work on the part of the players. Rose was not complacent after making first team all-league in 2007. She took private pitching lessons during the offseason.

'The team hit all winter,' Chamberlain said. 'A lot of the players took private lessons.'

Lakeridge played a make-up game against Westview on Wednesday. The Pacers travel to West Linn on Friday.