Prep Focus

In a league where the race is often a scramble, a softball team that didn't make the state playoffs last year hopes to shake things up.

Central Catholic is using a blend of youth and experience to make a run at the Mount Hood Conference title, or at least one of the nine-team MHC's five postseason berths.

'We're probably as strong as anyone on any given day,' says coach Jim Taylor, whose club is ranked 10th in the state, and first among MHC squads.

Not much comes easily, though. The Rams opened conference play a week ago with a nine-inning, 3-2 victory over David Douglas. The Scots' Amy Greenough struck out eight batters, while CC freshman Kaitlin Inglesby fanned seven.

In the ninth, after a poor infield throw put the Ram runner on second base, sophomore Megan Wallo slapped a ball into the outfield to score courtesy of runner Katie Scherpe, another sophomore.

Inglesby's older sister, senior Shannon, holds down third base. They are nationally ranked racquetball players. 'I think their great hand-eye coordination has something to do with their ability to field and hit,' Taylor says.

The Rams went 6-3 in preseason, losing by one run to both defending state champion Jesuit and Roseburg, who are ranked 1-2 this year.

'We haven't had a lot of runs scored on us,' says Taylor, whose club entered the week having outscored its 12 opponents by a combined 63-23.

Senior Amy Stark also takes the mound for Central, with Kaitlin Inglesby playing outfield and using her speed on the base paths. Senior Jill Solazzo moved from infield to catcher this year to fill a spot vacated by graduation.

Senior Megan Walsh plays first, sophomore Erin Guidarelli is at second and sophomore Laynee Bevans starts at shortstop. The primary outfielders are senior Chelsea Dowless in left, Wallo in center and sophomore Kilie Jordan in right.

- Steve Brandon

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