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Warriors learning to compete

Aloha trying to get right for the start of the 2007 Metro League campaign
by: MILES VANCE, WHIP IT — Aloha third baseman Chantel Worley fires to first base while pitcher Shaunte Muller backs her up during the Warriors’ 5-2 loss to Gresham last Thursday.

ALOHA - There have been some highs, some lows and challenges aplenty for the Aloha softball team this year, but the Warriors are determined to persevere.

Aloha (5-5) took another step in its maturation, though a less pleasant one, when it dropped a 5-2 decision to Gresham (4-3) at Aloha High School last Thursday afternoon. The Warriors trailed 1-0 early on and rallied to lead 2-1 after four innings before the Gophers tied the game in the fifth and added three in the top of the seventh to win.

'I'm so (mad) about the game. It just disappoints me,' said Aloha junior pitcher Shaunte Muller, who allowed six hits and five walks while striking out seven. 'We're a really strong team, but we have a lot of freshmen and two of them start and we just need to bond as a team.'

'From the last couple games, I've seen them not fighting so (coming back) was a positive,' said Aloha's first-year coach Laura Clark. 'I think we can build on that, that they kept on fighting until the end. I was happy to see that, but it was definitely a frustrating game.'

Early on, it looked like the Warriors might escape every Gresham threat of the day. The Gophers, picked to place second in the Mt. Hood Conference this year, put their first two batters on base in the first inning before Muller bore down for three straight outs (two by strikeout), then loaded the bases with two outs in the second before again coming away empty-handed.

Gresham's first run came in the top of the third when Ashley Billingsley walked, took second on a bunt and scored on Stephanie Guenther's bloop single down the left field line.

The Warriors, after getting just one hit in the first three innings against Gopher pitcher Ashley Goode (four hits, two walks and nine strikeouts), broke through to score twice with a two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth. There, Stephanie Lascelles got things started when she reached base on a Gresham error, moved up on a Chantel Worley hit and scored when Brittany Sanchez singled past the Gresham shortstop. Worley came home on the same play to make it 2-1, scoring when Gresham catcher Leah Justice tried to throw Sanchez out at second and her throw bounced awry into short center field.

The Gophers tied the game in the fifth when Goode singled to right and scored on Justice's double to left-center field. Aloha tried to tie the game in the sixth when Muller singled to left and moved to third on a wild pitch and a Lascelles bunt, but Goode struck out Worley to end the threat and neither team would reach the scoreboard again until the seventh inning.

In that decisive seventh, Muller opened the frame by getting Becca Moen out on a line drive to Haley Woll at shortstop and Goode on a strikeout, but the third strike to Goode came in high and tipped off catcher Makenzie Delenikos' glove and allowed Goode to reach first. Then, Billingsley ripped a double to right for a 3-2 lead, and with two outs, Guenther doubled to center to score both Billingsley and Heather Stanfill for the final 5-2 margin.

'We're all really competitive and sometimes we get down on ourselves when we don't do good,' Muller said. 'We just need to stay positive and stay intense. We need to stay intense the whole game, but I have really high hopes for our team this year.'

'My focus this year is just getting them thinking more positively, trying to build more team unity and I see it more and more,' Clark said. 'I believe in them. That's for sure. It's just getting them to believe in themselves.'

For the game, Sanchez went 2-for-3 and drove in one run, Muller went 1-for-3 and Worley 1-for-3 with one run. For Gresham, Guenther was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Goode went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and Billingsley 1-for-2 with one RBI and two runs.