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Gaston fends off late Knappa rally

SOFTBALL: Knappa scores six runs in the bottom of the seventh, but Gaston hangs on to win 11-6

Gaston was on cruise control last Wednesday afternoon when the team was force fed an important lesson about taking things for granted.

Staked to an 11-run lead with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning against winless Knappa, the Lady Greyhounds assumed the win was a forgone conclusion. Three hits, three errors and six runs later, the Gaston dugout was a considerably less confident place.

'For 6 2/3 innings we played perfect ball,' said Gaston head coach Jerry Mettee. 'Then we just fell asleep.'

Gaston did hang on for an 11-6 victory, but Mettee was quick to use the game as a teaching point for his team, which has its sights set on a league title and a return to the 2A state playoffs.

'It was actually a good thing,' Mettee said of the seventh-inning meltdown. 'It was a good reminder to not fall asleep at the switch. Maybe it's an opportunity to refocus and not take things for granted.'

Gaston (11-3, 6-0) built a 9-0 lead through five innings, then tacked on two more in the top of the seventh to seemingly put the game out of reach. But Knappa (0-10, 0-6) roared back with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Six straight batters reached base and six runs crossed the plate before Gaston starter Katrina Rios pitched out of the jam with a game-ending flyout.

'I take responsibility because I think I fell asleep at the switch too,' Mettee said. 'It's easy to say, 'Oh, this one's in the bag.' Well, it's not always in the bag.'

Junior shortstop K'rene Delplanche had a huge game for Gaston, going 4 for 5 with a triple and five RBIs. Senior centerfielder Julia Breidenbach also reached base four times, going 1 for 2 with a single and three walks.

'Julia and K'rene, those two at the top of the lineup really key our offense,' Mettee said. 'Their speed allows us to do a lot of things, and the middle of the lineup is doing a good job of producing runs.'

Gaston has six league games left on the schedule, starting this week with three games against Nestucca (8-7, 7-2) and wrapping up next week with three games against Corbett (10-4, 5-1). The outcome of those six games will determine where Gaston lands in the final standings.

'If we can win four out of six, that gets us a league championship, and that's our goal,' Mettee said.