by: Michael Cade, Sandy's southpaw pitcher Courtney Brown struck out five Centennial batters on April 2.

For six solid innings on Monday, April 2, the Sandy Pioneers fought a tough defensive battle vs. the visiting Eagles from Centennial.

But with the game knotted up at 0-0 in the top of the seventh, Centennial made its move.

The Eagles' Kena Elliott bunted to first base and a resultant Pioneer error allowed third baseman Dusty Sandstrom to advance home for a 1-0 lead.

Centennial fattened its lead to 2-0 mere minutes later, as three Pioneer errors gave Elliott the opportunity to score the game's final run.

Sandy coach Laurie Smallwood was pleased with her team's defensive performance up until its seventh-inning collapse, and Smallwood was particularly happy with junior pitcher Courtney Brown, who struck out five batters on the night.

'Courtney's a very consistent pitcher,' Smallwood said. 'She's not going to be a pitcher who gets a lot of strikeouts. She's got really good movement on the ball. Kids are going to hit grounders off her, they're not going to get a lot of outfield hits. They're not going to have a lot of doubles off of Courtney. As long as our infield is working and functioning properly, we definitely have potential to keep no score in the game.'

Smallwood also singled out junior Brittany Isaacs' solid night at bat, and she indicated that Isaacs and sophomore Stephanie Mallory are tied with the team's highest on-base percentage.

'She's probably our most consistent hitter,' Smallwood said of Isaacs. 'She's our power hitter.'

The Pioneers had a chance to assume control of the game earlier when Centennial's shortstop appeared to catch a ball and the Pioneers' Amanda McCoy was called out. But after some debate following Sandy's appeal, the field umpire put McCoy back on base.

Sandy couldn't take advantage of the reversal of fortune, though, and the Pioneers' next batter struck out. That prevented a potentially dangerous momentum shift, at least from the Eagles' vantage point.

"Sandy is like us," Centennial coach Steve Baker said. "They've got a few veterans and some new kids. It's a game I thought we should win, but they're right in the same spot as we are. Fortunately, we put a little pressure and we got them to react a little bit. It played out well for us."

Saturday, Mar. 31

The girls traveled to St. Helens and earned a 6-2 road win, and the Pioneers got a chance to mentor Sandy's U10 youth softball team along the way. Smallwood said both parties benefited from the experience.

'For (the girls) it's good camaraderie,' Smallwood said. 'It's obviously going to help build the program out here.'

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