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Softball team eyes stretch run

The West Linn softball team suffered a pair of tough losses to Clackamas and Lakeridge after evening its season series against Lake Oswego last week.

And even though the playoff picture is slowly starting to crystallize, the Lions still have plenty to play for with five games remaining on the schedule.

West Linn sits in a tie for fifth place with Lake Oswego and is just two games back of Clackamas in the loss column.

The Cavaliers beat the Lions for the second time this year 4-1 to give them that cushion. Then, on Saturday, West Linn played a make-up game against Lake Oswego in a game it needed to win to stay in playoff contention.

The Lions responded with a close 4-3 win, their second victory over the Lakers this year.

On Monday, West Linn took on Lakeridge for the final time this season.

The Pacers have been incredibly hot over the past few weeks and have moved firmly into second place.

It was another epic pitcher's duel on Monday at Willamette Park.

West Linn's Rhianna Russell and Lakeridge's Natalie Rose kept the opposing line-ups off the board through the first seven innings of regulation.

'Rhianna was great. We had some errors behind her but she battled through it,' coach Jamie LeVeque said.

Russell scattered seven hits through 10 innings while Rose struck out 12 batters in the game and only gave up a pair of hits.

'Natalie's tough. Every time we threatened she bore down,' LeVeque said.

In the 10th inning, the international tiebreaker took place with each team starting with a runner on second base. Lakeridge started and its runner moved to third on a steal.

A hit by Lexi Graybeal scored that run. She then stole second base and was plated on a hit by Alex Scott, giving the Pacers a 2-0 lead.

That extra run would prove to be crucial.

In the bottom of the inning, a sacrifice fly by catcher McKenna Pyeatt scored West Linn's runner with two outs but the game ended on a pop-up to the pitcher.

The Lions had opportunities to score earlier but couldn't get the key bunt or base hit to break through.

'We had a squeeze that turned into a double play and had runners on second and third with one out but couldn't score. It happens sometimes,' LeVeque said.

The team still has a handful of important games ahead of it including games against Clackamas, Lake Oswego and Oregon City.

A sweep of those three games would put the Lions in good shape at moving up to fourth and earning a playoff sport but anything less would put West Linn in a difficult spot.

'It's nice that we've been able to compete the way we have with no seniors on this team. I haven't been disappointed with this team at all,' LeVeque said.