The youthful Cavaliers rally around their bats to go 4-0 in league

CLACKAMAS - The Clackamas Cavaliers have been the biggest surprise in Three Rivers League softball this spring.

The Cavaliers have only four seniors on their roster, they went 10-16 a year ago, and they've got a new coach who is starting two freshmen. So little was expected of the Cavaliers this spring.

But the Cavaliers have come on like gangbusters. Through play last week, they were 4-0 in league and 7-4 on the season. Their nonleague losses were all to teams garnering votes in Class 6A top 10 polls.

In play last week, the Cavaliers defeated Oregon City (2-1), West Linn (10-2) and Aloha (5-1), and they dropped a 5-4 barnburner to Mt. Hood Conference power Reynolds.

'I really didn't have any idea of how we'd do,' said Clackamas coach Dom Giancola. 'But now, after seeing most of the [league] teams, I know we can compete….

'We've got young kids in key spots, so we may have some ups and downs. But so far those young kids are playing pretty well.'

Two of the youngsters, freshman outfielder Ariel Rockwell and freshman second baseman Kathryn Persaud, are the leading hitters on a Cavalier squad that boasts a .327 team batting average.

Rockwell sported a .538 batting average through play last week. Persaud was hitting .461 and sophomore first baseman Maddie Taylor was at .346.

The Cavaliers' bats abandoned them in last week's game at Oregon City, but they still figured out a way to get it done.

Oregon City pitcher McKenzie Marshall (9 strikeouts) gave up only three hits, while the Pioneers reached Clackamas pitcher Victoria Scholes (9 strikeouts) for seven hits. Both teams played error-free defense.

Clackamas scored the game-winner in the top of the seventh. Senior Kim Christensen reached as a hit batsman, moved to second on a fielder's choice and scored with one down on a double by Persaud.

The Pioneers threatened in the bottom of the seventh, advancing batters to first and third with one down. But Rockwell hauled down two fly balls in right field to retire the side.

'Ariel came through with two clutch plays,' said Giancola. 'She hauled down a long fly ball, and she made a great catch on a sinking line drive to end the game.'

Scholes (no strikeouts, 6 walks) pitched a 3-hitter in the 10-2 win over West Linn.

The Cavaliers fired up their bats for 10 hits. Taylor (2-for-2) crushed the ball for a two-run home run and had three RBI; Rockwell (3-for-4) drove in four runs.

Senior Shelley Simpson (3 strikeouts, 2 walks) pitched a solid game against Aloha. Rockwell and Taylor had two hits apiece.

The Cavaliers stranded runners at third base in each of the first six innings in last week's 4-3 loss to Reynolds. Persaud (2-for-4, double) headed the hitting. Simpson pitched, retiring the Raiders in order four times.

The Cavaliers (7-4, 4-0) entertain league leader Putnam (11-1, 5-0) this afternoon, they vie at Lake Oswego (4-7, 1-3) on Friday, and they meet Putnam on the road next Monday.

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