Aloha reaches the semifinals for the first time since 1979
by: Miles Vance OH YEAR — Aloha’s (from left) Katie Newton, Serenil Sierra, Ryan Patterson and Rachel Thompson celebrate near the end of their 3-2 win over Glencoe in the Class 6A state quarterfinals on Friday.

The dream lives on for the Aloha softball team.

The Metro League champion Warriors, just a year removed from a Class 6A state quarterfinal appearance, have made the 2011 season even better, knocking off Thurston 9-5 in the second round of the playoffs on May 25, then beating Glencoe 3-2 in Friday's quarterfinals to reach the state semifinals for just the second time in school history.

Aloha 3, Glencoe 2

WEST LINN - It looked bleak for the Warriors early in their Friday quarterfinal against Glencoe at Rosemont Ridge Elementary School, both literally and figuratively.`

The Crimson Tide, the 2010 Class 5A state champion, pushed across single runs in both the first and third innings and led 2-0 as Aloha senior pitcher Serenil Sierra struggled in the rainy, cool weather.

But the sun broke through midway through the game, and so did the Warriors, tying the game in the fifth, then scoring the game-winner on sophomore catcher Alex Portesi's clutch single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

'I was almost at first base and I saw (the ball) drop and I was like 'Yeah!' It was great,' said Portesi, who went 3-for-5 at the plate, scored once and knocked in the winning run.

'It's like 'Wow,'' said Aloha senior center fielder Anna Moore, who scored the winning run on Portesi's hit. 'They were so tough. It was so exciting.'

'I'm just so proud of everybody. We worked so hard for this,' added sophomore third baseman Katie Newton, who went 2-for-3 and knocked in one run. 'I'm so glad we won this.'

The win lifted Aloha's record to 23-6, while Pacific Conference champ Glencoe saw its year end at 25-3.

Early on, though, it was Glencoe that held the upper hand. The Tide got a two-out walk in the first by Jordan Krieger, pushed her to second when Alyssa Davis was hit by a pitch, and brought her home when Tre' Sullivan singled to right-center field.

Glencoe then extended that lead to 2-0 in the top of the third when Davis doubled to the left field fence, took third on a wild pitch and scored when Sullivan grounded to first.

But Aloha cut that gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the third when Portesi led off with a single up the middle, and scored on Newton's rocket of a double to the right-center field gap.

After a scoreless fourth, Aloha got the equalizer in the bottom of the fifth when Ryan Patterson walked with one out, took second when Glencoe pitcher Katie Sutherland-Finch threw low to second base on Kiana Wood's grounder, moved to third on Michelle Silva's single to left, and scored on Moore's bases-loaded walk.

Sierra, meanwhile, settled down after the third inning to throw four straight shutout frames, allowing just two hits in that span, and giving the Warrior offense time to come around.

The Warriors then broke through for the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh, getting a Silva walk to start, then putting Moore on base when Glencoe's second baseman dropped a throw from first baseman Amie Chapman. Sutherland-Finch got the first out of the inning when Silva was forced out at third on a Katie Buchanan grounder to short, but saw Kaylee Barden load the bases when she grounded to short and Sarah Hedrick's throw pulled Chapman off the bag.

Portesi then stepped up and ripped a 1-1 pitch into right field to plate Moore and send the Warriors on to the semifinals.

'It was right there, right down the middle so I had to take it. I couldn't let it go by,' Portesi said. 'It sounded good. It felt great.'

'I didn't watch it - I was just trotting home, making sure I touched home plate,' Moore added. 'That was my goal.'

Silva was the only other Aloha player with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-2, while Alyssa Gillespie went 2-for-4 with two doubles to lead Glencoe. Sierra allowed two runs on five hits, four walks and one hit batter while striking out three. Sutherland-Finch gave up three runs on eight hits and seven walks while striking out six.

Aloha 9, Thurston 5

SPRINGFIELD - The Warriors just flat broke loose on May 25 at Thurston.

Leading the Colts just 3-2 after four innings, Aloha exploded for six fifth-inning runs, sending 11 batters to the plate, pounding out six hits and leaving Thurston in the dust of its second-round victory.

'Right now we're just picking up everything and going with it,' said Newton, who went 2-for-5, scored once and knocked in one. 'It's all about picking each other up and making the correct plays at the right times.'

'Now that we've gotten this far, we're just going to keep pushing 'til we reach the end,' said Moore, who went 2-for-3, scored twice and drove in another. 'It's an awesome way to leave as a senior.'

Thurston broke through in the bottom of the first to lead 2-0 on a two-run single to right-center field by Lexi Jennings, and Colts' pitcher Emily Hoefer shut out the Warriors for the game's first three innings, scattering four hits in that span.

But the Warriors got their bats going for the first time in the top of the fourth, pushing across three runs on singles by Patterson, Silva, Buchanan and Shelby Newton to lead 3-2.

The game really turned, however, during Aloha's at-bat in the fifth. The Warriors opened that inning with four straight hits, getting a double by Patterson and singles from Wood, Silva and Moore. Next they put Portesi aboard on a Thurston error, added an RBI double by Newton and another run-scoring single by Patterson.

By the time the dust had cleared, the Warriors had poured across six runs, boosted their lead to 9-2, and coated home to win from there.

'I remember last year, we got to the quarterfinals, and we're better this year mechanically and physically so we had to make it further and we did,' Newton added. 'I'm just so proud of everyone.'

Patterson went 4-for-5 to lead the Warriors' offense, while Portesi, Newton, Wood, Silva and Moore added two hits each.

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