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Gaston slips up against Nestucca

Softball - Lady Greyhounds lose two of three to Nestucca but stay in the league title hunt behind Katrina Rios' no-hitter

Katrina Rios came to the rescue for Gaston on Monday, throwing a no-hitter in a 2-0 win over Nestucca to keep the Greyhounds in the Northwest League softball title chase.

Gaston (12-5, 7-2) slipped up in a big way last Friday, losing both ends of a doubleheader against Nestucca to fall out of first place in the league standings. A third loss to Nestucca on Monday would have put the Lady Hounds out of the running for a league championship, but Rios rose to the occasion with seven innings of brilliant pitching.

'Katrina threw a gem and the girls played great defense behind her,' said Gaston head coach Jerry Mettee. 'We did a great job of bouncing back [from last Friday]. It was a pretty game to watch.'

Rios, a junior righthander who earned All-League honors last season, allowed only five baserunners on Monday, striking out two and holding Nestucca (10-8, 9-3) without a hit in its final league game of the season.

K'rene Delplanche sparked the Gaston offense, going 2 for 3 and scoring both of the Lady Hounds' runs.

Delplanche led off the fourth inning with a triple and scored on a groundout, then singled to open the sixth and scored on Jessica Garner's suicide squeeze bunt.

'It was good execution, unlike Friday,' Mettee said.

Friday's sweep at the hands of the Bobcats was both unexpected and unwelcome. Gaston came into the games undefeated in league play but left with two stinging defeats. Another loss on Monday would have meant no better than a third-place finish this season.

'I never thought we'd get swept,' Mettee said. 'I thought at worst we might split. But it's hard with this weather to keep the team ready. You push them in practice to keep them ready for a game and then it gets rained out. You try not to push them too hard, but you never know when you're actually going to play.'

Monday's game was originally scheduled for last Tuesday, but was pushed back three times due to rain. The teams then kicked off their three-game series with Friday's doubleheader. Nestucca won the opener 6-5, then stunned the Lady Hounds with a 3-2 win in the nightcap.

'We had plenty of opportunities,' Mettee said. 'We hit the ball hard all day, we just hit the ball right at people.'

Gaston fell behind 5-0 in Game 1, but rallied to tie things up in the sixth. Nestucca loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Gaston nearly got out of the jam with a 1-2-3 double play on a ground ball back to Rios, but neither umpire saw the play at first base and the runner was called safe. The next batter blooped a single into left field to score the winning run.

'I don't complain about the officiating very often, but that was pretty bad,' Mettee said.

In Game 2, Gaston scored two runs in the fourth inning to take a 2-1 lead only to watch as Nestucca plated two of their own in the bottom of the sixth on a double and two singles. The Lady Hounds loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh, but couldn't score the tying run.

'You just had to say, 'OK, it wasn't our day,'' Mettee said.

Gaston is scheduled to play three games against league-leading Corbett (13-4, 8-1) this week. The Cardinals own a one-game lead in the league standings, so Gaston must win at least twice to capture the league title.

The series was scheduled to start on Tuesday, but results were not available at press time. Gaston will travel to Corbett on Friday for a doubleheader that will likely decide the Northwest League championship.