Softball - Gaston starts slow but heats up in time to sweep past Knappa in league play
by: Zack Palmer, Gaston junior Katrina Rios winds up to deliver a pitch during Friday’s league doubleheader against Knappa.

Gaston overcame a slow start on Friday to take both ends of a Northwest League softball doubleheader from Knappa and stay one step ahead in the chase for a league championship.

One day after playing a Portland Christian squad in its first year of existence, Gaston (10-3, 5-0) had to adjust to faster pitching and stiffer competition against Knappa.

The Lady Greyhounds trailed 1-0 through the first three innings of Game 1 before freshman Becca Brown busted the game open with a bases-loaded double. That jump-started the Gaston offense, paving the way for a 6-1 win in Game 1 and a 6-0 victory in Game 2.

'We played Portland Christian the night before and that was a dramatically different pitching style,' said Gaston head coach Jerry Mettee. 'Early in the game we were chasing bad pitches and it took us a little while to adjust. After the first time through the order we finally got things going.'

Brown's bases-clearing blast was the spark Gaston needed. Two walks and a Knappa fielding error loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, and Brown cleared them with a three-run double to deep left field.

Gaston tacked on an insurance run in the fifth and two more in the sixth to win 6-1.

There were fewer anxious moments in Game 2 as the Lady Greyhounds jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning on Faith Hawley's two-run double and Brittany Steele's RBI single. Gaston got two more runs in the third and one in the fourth to win easily.

'The first game carried over and we went after them right away,' Mettee said. 'We have good balance and good depth. Everybody's contributing right now.'

Katrina Rios pitched both games, giving up just one earned run in 14 innings of work. She struck out 14 batters and allowed three hits.

The two wins were important because it guarantees Gaston the tiebreaking advantage should Knappa (0-6, 0-5) somehow tie the Lady Hounds in the Northwest League standings.

'By sweeping a team in a doubleheader, you knock them out of contention,' Mettee said.

Gaston will return to action with a non-league game today against Blanchet. The team will travel to Knappa on Thursday.

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