Putnam improves to 6-0 in TRL softball

The Kingsmen rally around their defense to notch wins in close games with Lake Oswego and Lakeridge

MILWAUKIE - It didn't come easily, but the eighth-ranked Rex Putnam Kingsmen bagged a pair of victories last week, tightening their grip on first place in the Three Rivers League softball standings.

With wins over Lake Oswego (3-2) and Lakeridge (1-0), the Kingsmen improved to 6-0 (8-4 overall), two games in front of second-place Oregon City (4-2, 9-4).

'Everybody that comes to play us brings their best game,' said Putnam coach Tiffany Strnad. 'When you're the defending league champion and you've got a winning tradition, everyone wants to beat you.'

Strnad said that it's been defense that has carried the day for her Kingsmen, who have been struggling at the plate.

'Our defense has been pretty steady,' she said. 'I'm pretty proud of the girls for the way they've been playing defense. We've been having some trouble hitting. But the girls are just missing. I'm confident they'll find their groove and the hitting will come around.'

The Kingsmen played error-free defense in last week's games. They got out-hit 2-1 by Lakeridge, and they earned only a 6-5 edge at the plate in the narrow win over Lake Oswego.

In Friday's game with Lakeridge, the Kingsmen scored the game's only run in the bottom of the first inning.

Sami Parr drew a base on balls to lead off the inning. The fleet-footed shortstop stole second base and scored from second with one down on a hit-and-run up the middle by Ronni Sayres.

Lakeridge threatened twice. The Pacers had a runner at second with one out in the fourth. But the side was retired with a groundout to Missy Eberhardt at first and a strikeout.

The Pacers had runners at first and second with one down in the sixth inning. Parr got the first out with a force play at third, and Putnam pitcher Lauren Harvey fanned the next batter to retire the side.

Harvey went the distance on the mound, striking out 11 batters and walking one.

Lakeridge pitcher Natalie Rose punched out nine Putnam batters and walked two.

The Kingsmen scored a single tally in the second inning and led the rest of the way in the Lake Oswego game.

Jade LeBaron led off the second with a double and scored on a two-bagger by Eberhardt.

Putnam strung three hits together and added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Katie Parr and Danielle Sayres reached on base hits, and both runners scored with two down on Harvey's bloop single to center.

The Lakers loaded the bases with a base hit and two walks in the top of the sixth. Two runs scored on a timely two-out base hit. The side was retired on a ground ball to Eberhardt at first.

Harvey fanned five batters and issued four free passes.

'The umpire had a very tight zone,' said Strnad.

Lake Oswego pitcher Taylor Hemzacek struck out four Putnam batters and walked no one.

The Kingsmen entertain Oregon City this afternoon, and they travel to Milwaukie on Friday.