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Crusaders beat Cats 5-0 in first-round battle

Shikara Lowe's homer, Paige Hall's pitching lift top-ranked Jesuit past No. 7 Westview
by: MILES VANCE, STOLEN — Westview shortstop Kellie Studer can’t come up with the throw as Jesuit’s Samantha Nelson steals second base on Monday.

BEAVERTON - Just one batter into Monday's Westview at Jesuit softball game, the sky opened up and halted action with a 10-minute hail delay.

Then, in the bottom of the first inning, all hail really broke loose.

Jesuit got a three-run home run from junior catcher Shikara Lowe in the bottom of the first, the Crusaders tacked on two more runs in the third inning and senior pitcher Paige Hall did the rest in their team's 5-0 victory over the Wildcats. The win lifted top-ranked Jesuit's record to 4-0 in Metro League play (14-1 overall) while No. 7 Westview, which won two of three against the Crusaders a year ago, lost for the second straight time and fell to 2-2 in league (6-4-1 overall).

'It was definitely huge, especially since they beat us twice last year,' Lowe said of the win. 'We wanted to come back and make a statement that we're a different team this year and we're not going to dropping very many games.'

'It's been a long time coming. The kids played really well today,' said Jesuit coach Jim Speciale. 'Shak comes up with a big three-run home run and that's huge when you can come out with that and you've got Paige (in the circle).'

Westview, which also lost to Southridge 3-2 on Friday, just wanted to move on, get to the next game and start playing better.

'I think we just need to practice harder, and if we keep our talk up, I think we'll do extremely good in the next few games,' said Westview senior second baseman Jade Kealiinohomoku, who had her team's lone hit off Hall.

'The bottom line is they're playing better than we are right now,' added Westview coach Ronda McKenzie. Hall 'threw well and we didn't hit well. What can you say?'

Indeed. Hall was dominant in Monday's chilly, windy conditions, limiting the Wildcats to just Kealiinohomoku's second-inning single and three walks while striking out 14. She struck out two Westview hitters three times each, three others twice each and struck out all but three of Westview's 11 batters at least once.

'Once the sun came out, I felt like we brightened up and played well,' Hall said. 'I had good support behind me and our bats were on fire so it was great.'

'She's putting up some good numbers and that's the way it should be her senior year,' Speciale said. 'It's fun.'

After Hall set Westview down in the top of the first inning, Samantha Nelson got things started for Jesuit with a leadoff walk. Kelsey VandeBergh then followed with a hard bunt single that skittered past Wildcat third baseman Ashley Garcia and Lowe came up next and hammered a Dylan Mizer pitch over the left field fence to give her team a 3-0 lead it would not relinquish.

'She just put one there for me and I got a hold of it and it felt really good,' said Lowe, who went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. 'It definitely made my night.'

Westview's best scoring chance came in the top of the second when Kealiinohomoku led off with a single to right field and stole second with one out. But Hall, who struck out Mizer for the first out, struck out Kellie Studer for the second out, and after a walk to Ashtyn Sauressig, struck out Nicole Chombeau to end the inning.

Hall struck out the side

again in the third and fourth innings, and set the Wildcats down in order in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh frames.

Along with a Jesuit defense that played errorless ball, the Crusaders' offense had plenty of time to add to its margin, and Jesuit did that in the bottom of the third inning. There, VandeBergh led off with a double down the third base line, Lowe singled to center field, Hall walked to load the bases, and Mary Claire Brenner followed with an RBI single to right and Elizabeth Brenner added a sacrifice fly to center that provided the final 5-0 margin.

For the game, Westview's Garcia reached base twice on walks and lined out to first base, while Mizer and Garcia combined to allow 10 hits and four walks and strike out four. VandeBergh went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored twice for Jesuit, while Mary Claire Brenner also went 2-for-3 and drove in one.

In upcoming games - all set for 5 p.m. starts - Jesuit is at Beaverton on Friday, hosts Sunset Monday and plays at Aloha on Wednesday. Westview plays at Aloha Friday, hosts Beaverton Monday and plays at Southridge on Wednesday.