Bruins explode in the ninth to get past Central

SOFTBALL - Barlow's defense turns away repeated Rams' scoring chances
by: David Ball, Central Catholic's Katie Mardesich tags out Barlow's Jayme Simonis at second base during the Bruins' 5-1 win Friday night at Delta Park.

After being trapped in a stalemate most of the way, Barlow erupted to score four runs in the ninth inning and beat Central Catholic 5-1 under the lights Friday night at Delta Park.

The No. 5-ranked Bruins put the game away with a hitting spree in the ninth inning. Breanna Larkin started the rally by dropping a hit just in front of the center fielder's glove for a lead-off single. Two batters later, Jamie Martens sent a line-drive into the grass, watching as the ball landed inches inside the left-field line for the game-winning RBI-double.

Barlow strung together four straight hits and added three more insurance runs, putting the game out of reach when Andrea Bailey raced home on a wild pitch to build a four-run lead.

'We had to keep putting the ball in play and force them to make some plays,' Barlow coach Scott Vang said. 'The real key was getting some productive at-bats when we had runners out there.'

The win keeps Barlow (4-0) atop the Mount Hood Conference standings, while Central Catholic (0-3) is at the bottom just one year after playing for the state title.

Deadlocked at 1-1, the Rams had a couple chances to win the game. In the seventh inning, they advanced runners to second and third with only one out. But Barlow escaped the jam when Martens snagged a heater inches off the ground and fired to third base to complete the double play.

The Rams loaded the bases in the eighth inning, when Kendall Boliba sent a shot into center field. But Barlow's Jaydee Baxter tracked it right away, retreated three quick steps and caught the fly ball to end the inning.

Central Catholic stranded 11 runners in the game - 10 of them in scoring position.

The Rams did get a boost with the return of standout pitcher Katlin Inglesby, who saw her first action since throwing in the state title game last year. She struck out eight and gave up only one run, while pitching the middle six innings of action.

• In other MHC action Friday, Sandy's Lindsey Freeman dropped a short blooper in front of a diving Gresham outfielder to bring across the winning run in the seventh inning of the Pioneers' 4-3 victory.

Reynolds connected for three triples in its 12-4 win against St. Mary's. Gabby Stover led the offensive charge by blasting a three-run homer, along with a triple and a double.