Warriors perfect in win
Senior pitcher Serenil Sierra throws a perfect game with 10 strikeouts
ALOHA - Aloha pitcher Serenil Sierra wasn't going to let this opportunity slip by.
Sierra, facing South Medford on Monday in the first round of the Class 6A state softball playoffs at Aloha High School, made sure her senior season wasn't going to end early.
Sierra threw a perfect game at the Panthers, shutting down South Medford on no hits and no walks while striking out 10 to lead her team to a 2-0 win and into the second round of postseason play.
'I felt that my pitches were breaking quite a bit today,' Sierra said of her first perfect game of the year. 'They were really chasing after them.'
The Metro League champion Warriors improved to 21-6 with the win and played at Thurston (23-5 and the 6A Special District 1 champion) yesterday after the Valley Times' press deadline. If Aloha won that game, the Warriors would host either Glencoe or Sunset/McNary in the 6A state quarterfinals on Friday.
While Sierra and her defense - she benefited from great defensive plays by freshman shortstop Michelle Silva and senior center fielder Anna Moore - kept South Medford at bay all day long, the Warriors' offense didn't break through until the fourth.
There, sophomore Kiana Wood reached base on a fielder's choice, took second when Silva singled to left, and scored when Moore blooped a soft single just over the head of South Medford's drawn-in shortstop.
'I thought she was going to catch it and I was like 'Oh no,'' Moore said. 'And then when it hit the ground, I was like 'Yes.' I was watching it the whole time.'
While South Medford pitcher Lucy Baldovino avoided more trouble there - she struck out both Katie Buchanan and Shelby Newton to end the threat, she wouldn't be so lucky in the fifth.
Katie Newton opened Aloha's half of the fifth with a single off Baldovino's glove, stole second and took third on a throwing error by the Panther catcher, then scored when Baldovino uncorked a wild pitch with Ryan Patterson at the plate.
'We learned how to capitalize and get the runs when we needed them,' said Moore, who went 2-for-3 at the plate and drove in one run.
'I knew it was going to happen,' Sierra said of her team's offensive breakthrough.
On this day, with Sierra on top of her game and perplexing the Panthers the whole way, those two runs were more than enough. South Medford hit just two hard balls all game long, a second-inning grounder by Sam Owirka that Silva handled cleanly, and a second-inning liner to center field by Ashleigh Hawkins that Moore caught on the run.
'I have complete confidence in my defense,' Sierra added. 'I trust them so much. They've saved me hundreds of times and I'm so thankful for that.'
For the game, Newton went 2-for-3 and scored once, and Patterson also went 2-for-3.
Baldovino allowed eight hits and no walks while striking out six.